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Afghan presidential rivals make breakthrough in poll dispute, agree to a vote audit

Published on Jul 13, 2014 10:15 AM
(From left) US Secretary of State John Kerry, Afghan presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah hold hands during a joint press conference in Kabul on July 12, 2014.-- PHOTO: AFP 

KABUL (AFP) - Afghanistan's two presidential rivals have agreed to a historic deal to audit all eight million votes cast in the disputed election after two days of intense shuttle diplomacy by top US diplomat John Kerry.

An audible gasp rippled through a packed press conference at the UN headquarters in Kabul on Saturday as Kerry made the surprise announcement after hours of waiting, saying that vote-checking would begin within the next 24 hours.

Both candidates have vowed to stand by the results of the audit, with the winner to be declared the country's next president, who will immediately begin work to form a national unity government. The details of that are yet to be worked out.

The first ballots to be audited will be those gathered already in Kabul, while ballot boxes from all the country's provinces will be brought under high security to the Afghan capital by NATO and Afghan security forces and kept under tight guard.

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