by Abdul Haleem
KABUL, July 21 (Xinhua) -- The agreement brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry between two Afghan presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai on July 12 has not only broken the election deadlock but also paved the way for formation of national unity government in the ethnically- divided country.
Under the agreement, there is no loser in the elections since the candidate who can secure the majority of the votes in the recounting process would become the country's president and his opponent to serve as chief executive, which is tantamount to the position of a prime minister.
The reconciliation between the two presidential hopefuls occurred at a critical time when the militancy-plagued and ethnically-divided country was sliding towards its worst political crisis and has raised concerns of returning Afghanistan into 1990s devastating factional fighting and civil strife.
Welcoming the John Kerry-brokered agreement to end the election deadlock, Afghans from all walks of life believe that the country has been rescued from plunging into crisis and chaos.
"I am happy that the election standoff has been broken and I can sit in my shop and continue my business free of any fear," a shop-keeper, Zabihullah, told Xinhua.
The prolonged election process and election impasse had caused concerns among the war-weary Afghans and slowed down business activities.
With the election stalemate, there were reports that capital flight from the war-torn country has reportedly begun and the wealthy Afghans have started to siphon their resources to safe places in the Middle East, particularly Dubai.
Since reaching the agreement, both presidential candidates Abdullah and Ghani Ahmadzai have visited each other's houses and discussed the modalities of the national unity government.
Abdullah, who claimed victory in the April 5 presidential elections and June 14 runoff, had threatened to form a parallel government if his demands for recounting votes and ensuring transparency are not met.
He, however, has since softened his stand and welcomed the Kerry-brokered agreement. Last week, he said that "a united, democratic government will be structured after auditing 100 percent of the votes."
The auditing of 100 percent of the votes that began on July 17 will be completed within three to four weeks.
All Afghans including those in government and ordinary people, such as roadside vendors, have shown support to the Kerry-brokered agreement between the two candidates on formation of national unity government, believing that the roadmap can lead to a viable peace in Afghanistan.
The national unity government, according to Afghan observers, should represent all Afghans irrespective of their ethnic, cultural or religious background.
Although the post of chief executive is not in the constitution, observers believe it will be formally changed into post of prime minister within two or three years by amending the constitution.
Since Afghanistan's international friends and neighboring states including U.S. and China have been supporting ways and means that could lead to durable peace in Afghanistan, the formation of national unity government, endorsed by major parties, would enable Afghans to finally unite and embrace lasting peace.