Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has postponed the inaugural ceremony for his second term in office, his spokesman said, after his rival Abdullah Abdullah suspended a plan for parallel swearing-in event, averting a political crisis for now after US mediation efforts.
Both men issued invitations last week to parallel swearing-in ceremonies on Monday, after Abdullah had disputed last month’s decision by Afghanistan’s Electoral Commission to name Ghani as the winner of September’s election.
“The swearing-in ceremony … will be held in the afternoon,” Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter on Monday hours after Abdullah camp announced the postponement.
An official, who declined to be named, said Ghani, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Abdullah were continuing meetings on Monday morning as they worked towards a deal to prevent two parallel inauguration ceremonies.
Omid Maisam, Abdullah’s spokesman, said the move from their camp was contingent on Ghani also postponing his own swearing-in.
Afghanistan’s Election Commission last month announced that Ghani had retained power by winning the September 28 election. But his long-time rival, Abdullah, rejected that and proclaimed himself winner.
The political crisis comes as the government is meant to be preparing for talks with the Taliban, to follow up on the February 29 pact between the United States and the Taliban fighters on the withdrawal of US troops after 18 years of war.
Ghani and Abdullah both held roles in the previous government under a US-brokered power-sharing agreement that followed the previous election in 2014.
A former foreign minister, Abdullah held the specially created post of chief executive in the outgoing government.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced Ghani the winner on February 18. Under election law, the swearing-in ceremony for president must be held within 30 days of that announcement.
Al Jazeera and news agencies