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Afghan presidential candidates agree to political deal, UN mission confirms

8 August 2014 – The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today said that it welcomes a political agreement reached between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and looks forward to their pledged progress on moving ahead to form a national unity government.

The message, communicated via Twitter, was sent out after UNAMA hosted a press conference with both presidential candidates, as well as United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, who made a surprise visit to the Afghan capital.

Addressing journalists in Kabul, Mr. Abdullah and Mr. Ghani said that they had agreed on the terms of a power-sharing deal, and how to proceed with the audit of the results from the 14 June presidential run-off.

Mr. Kerry, who also spoke to the media, said that both parties now agree "to the rules of the road."

According to the plan brokered on 14 July, and facilitated by Mr. Kerry, both of the candidates had agreed to a complete audit of the ballot boxes – roughly eight million ballots – to be held in Kabul with monitoring by national and international observers, as well as the formation of a government of national unity, among other points.

Following several delays to the process, some 23,000 ballot boxes from the run-off are undergoing the audit by Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) in the full presence of international and domestic observers, candidates' agents, the media and UN advisors.

Auditors are using a 16-point checklist to look for things such as inconsistencies in marking the boxes or obvious patterns, which will then be reported to the IEC Board of Commissioners.

The audit is led from the UN side by the UN Development Programme's Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow (UNDP ELECT II) project, which has spent the last four years promoting the capacity of Afghan electoral institutions.

"We now have in place the largest audit that the United Nations has ever conducted in any country in history, the deepest audit that they have ever conducted," said Mr. Kerry speaking at the new conference.

He singled out the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, as "a big man here to do the job."

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