Historic, anxious handover in Afghanistan

2014-09-29 05:00
Ashraf Ghani. (Wakil Kohsar, AFP)

Ashraf Ghani. (Wakil Kohsar, AFP)

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Kabul - Afghanistan inaugurates its first new president in a decade on Monday, swearing in technocrat Ashraf Ghani to head a power-sharing government just as the withdrawal of most foreign troops presents a crucial test.

The first democratic handover of power in Afghanistan's history has been far from smooth: the deal for a unity government was cobbled together only after months of deadlock over a vote in which both Ghani and opponent Abdullah Abdullah claimed victory.

The inauguration marks the end of an era with the departure of President Hamid Karzai, the only leader Afghans have known since a US-led invasion in 2001 overthrew the Islamist Taliban that had given sanctuary to al-Qaeda.

Already-tight security was heightened around the capital Kabul ahead of the inauguration for fear Taliban insurgents might try to disrupt the ceremony or attack international dignitaries who flew in to attend.

Both foreign backers and Afghans hope that Ghani and Abdullah can put aside their acrimonious election rivalry and work to improve life in a country that has suffered war and poverty for decades.

The new government inherits massive problems, including fighting an emboldened Taliban that in recent months has been launching ever more aggressive attacks as foreign troops draw down.

Some hope that Ghani, a longtime World Bank official and former finance minister, will put his knowledge of international institutions and development to work in combating Afghanistan's tradition of corrupt and inefficient government.


Read more on:    ashraf ghani  |  afghanistan

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