On Monday, two different men were sworn in as president of Afghanistan, bringing political confusion to the country at a time when it most needs a stable government.
Afghanistan held an election in September. The country’s president, Ashraf Ghani was running against the country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah. The results were delayed several times.
When the results were finally announced in late February, Mr. Ghani was named the winner, taking just over 50% of the vote. But Mr. Abdullah refused to accept the results. He says that he won the election and that the government didn’t count the votes fairly.
Though there have been many attempts to resolve the problem, neither man has changed his position. On Monday, at about the same time, each man held a ceremony which swore him in as president. Both ceremonies were carried live on national TV.
Something similar happened between Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah in the last election, which was held in 2014. There was strong disagreement about who had won. For months there was confusion about the government of Afghanistan.
In the end, the United States (US) got involved in settling the disagreement. The situation was resolved by creating a new position, called the “chief executive”, and giving the job to Mr. Abdullah.
In the current situation, Mr. Ghani is the official winner. For many countries, like the US, he is the president. But the bitter political split is a big problem for a government facing many other challenges.
The situation is tense in Afghanistan now, and the confusion over the leadership is not helpful.
The US has been involved in a war in Afghanistan since 2001. The Afghan government at the time was run by the Taliban – a group of strict Muslims who use warlike methods to try to achieve their goals. The US invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban supported a terrorist group which had attacked the US.
Since then, the US has been supporting the Afghan government and fighting the Taliban. But at the end of February, the US and the Taliban signed a peace treaty. The agreement is supposed to bring all American soldiers out of Afghanistan by May of next year.
The next steps in the treaty process are tricky, and involve talks between the Taliban and the Afghanistan government. The Taliban doesn’t accept that the Afghan government is actually in charge of the country.
If the US is going to leave the country, it is important that there is a strong government in Afghanistan which can work out its own peace deals with the Taliban.
Talks between the government and the Taliban were supposed to start today. With the confusion over Afghanistan’s “two presidents”, it’s not clear whether those talks will still take place.
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