All updates and live reporting from Kabul
Abdullah Abdullah has been sworn in as Afghanistan’s new president after months of deadlock amid a bitter dispute over electoral fraud and a recount of votes.
At the swearing-in ceremony attended by up to thousands of participants at the Sapidar palace in Kabul, Abdullah took an oath to abide by the constitution.
His inauguration follows an election blighted by fraud and comes at time of fears for Afghanistan’s fragile democracy as the US prepares to leave the country following an agreement with the insurgents last month.
Security in the capital was tight, with few people on the streets and shops closed.
Earlier on Monday, a senior member of Abdullah’s team, Basir Salangi, told reporters that the U.S. peace envoy has asked both sides to delay their inaugurations for three days to sort out the stalemate. Abdullah reportedly said he was ready, but would go ahead with his ceremony Monday if Ghani refused to postpone.
The Afghan election commission late last month declared incumbent Ghani the winner of the bitterly contested September 28 presidential election.
But Abdullah has rejected the outcome as fraudulent, claiming that he and his team had won the vote and threatened to form his own government.
This comes as at a distance of few meters from Sapidar Palace, Ashraf Ghani sworn-in as Afghanistan’s new president for a second term at the Presidential Palace.
Ashraf Ghani sworn-in Monday as Afghanistan’s new president for a second term after repeated delays and accusations of voter fraud.
Representatives from 14 international institutions, 17 Pakistani politicians and around 4 thousand guests including women have attended the ceremony which was held inside the presidential palace with tight restrictions on those allowed in.
The oath-taking ceremony for Ghani at the Arg palace — the presidency, was scheduled for early morning around 9.00 a.m. (0430GMT), but it was postponed for undeclared reasons.
Polls were held in September but incumbent Ashraf Ghani was only declared to have won a second term in February, sparking a furious response by former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, who vowed to form his own parallel government.
In the meantime, at a distance of few meters, Ghani’s electoral rival Abdullah is scheduled to swear-in as Afghanistan’s new president in the upcoming minutes.
Ashraf Ghani has arrived at the Presidential Palace to take an oath in the swear-in ceremony.
Simultaneously, Abdullah Abdullah is attending the Sapidar Palace to swear-in with thousands of participants attended the ceremony.
The US special representative of Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and US chargé d’affaires Ross Wilson arrived at the presidential palace to witness Ashraf Ghani’s inauguration as new president of Afghanistan.
Ambassadors from the EU, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway have also arrived at the Palace.
A number of Afghan politicians including former President Hamid Karzai, Abd Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, Younus Qanuni and Speaker of the House of Representative Mir Rahman Rahmani are not attending any of the events today.
The Kabul city is under lockdown on Monday with Afghan security forces stationed at every parts of the city as Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah are scheduled to hold the swearing-in ceremonies in the next upcoming hours.
Kabul Garrison in a press release on Sunday night said that the roads from Abdul Haq square, Darwaze Lahori, Jade Maiwand, Shahid square, Pul-e Artal, Dehmazang circle will be blocked to traffic on the occasion of the inauguration ceremony of Ashraf Ghani on Monday.
The Garrison called on the residents of Kabul to refrain from unnecessary movements in the city.
This comes as the swearing-in ceremony of Abdullah Abdullah will be held in Sapidar Palace and Ashraf Ghani’s inauguration ceremony will be held at the Presidential Palace in the next hours.
Abdullah Abdullah says no one should have underestimated their commitment to genuine democracy and their resolve to uphold rule of law.
Abdullah in a tweet said that their track record of self-denial and compromise should not have given cause to anyone to take them for granted.
“Invalidation of all fraudulent votes is the way out,” he added.
Fazel Ahmad Manawi, one of the leaders of the “Stability and Partnership” team says the election negotiations have no result so far.
Among the participants who attended Abdullah’s inauguration ceremony, Manawi said, “The ceremony will be held after lunch. We will defend each of your votes as we promised.”
He warned that they will not allow anyone to form a corrupted government.
“We will hold the swearing-in ceremony today. Today we make the history,” Manawi added.
Abdullah Abdullah, Mohammad Mohaqiq and Adib Fahim have just arrived at the Sapidar Palace, eyewitnesses said.
This comes as the swearing-in ceremony of Abdullah Abdullah will be held in the next upcoming hours.
The Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) chairperson, Zuhra Bayan Shinwari says the commission has addressed the electoral complaints impartially and transparently.
“The Election Commission has submitted the decision to us to either reject or approve it, but we did not do any of them despite of the existence of 16000 complaints,” she said.
“We have been impartial about our decisions and based on the law the IEC monitored and observed our decision,” she added.
The provincial governor of Nangarhar and other officials have welcomed the top leaders of “Pashtun Tahafuz Movement” (PTM) in Jalalabad city.
In the meantime, the PTM top leaders, Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir have just left for Kabul from Nangarhar province.
According to local officials, they are being accompanied by Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, Atif Mashal.
They are set to attend President Ghani’s swearing-in ceremoncy at the Presidential Palace.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) have been invited to the Ashraf Ghani’s swearing-in ceremony.
“We have done our work transparently and what is going on now belongs to the politicians,” Hawa Alam Nuristani, IEC chief told Tolonews.
A member of the “Stability and Partnership” team, Abdul Basir Salangi says all preparations have been taken for holding the inauguration ceremony of Abdullah Abdullah.
“They failed to reach an agreement after negotiations up to 22:00pm last night. Khalilzad in a message urged the two sides to postpone the ceremonies for three days that US State Secretary Mike Pompeo comes to Kabul, but they did not accept,” Salangi said.
He stressed that Abdullah Abdullah has always emphasized on the peace process and prevention of crisis in the country.
“The Presidential Palace is pressing to hold the ceremony, if they hold so we will. The Election Commission is responsible for this situation,” he added.
The Taliban group said peace talks with the Afghan government this week were unlikely to take place because rivals for the presidency were both holding swearing-in ceremonies on Monday (today), and urged them instead to focus on an end to the war.
“But the threat of parallel governments is jeopardizing the nascent process to end a war,” the group said.
In February, Afghanistan’s Electoral Commission announced incumbent Ashraf Ghani as the winner of September’s presidential election, but his bitter rival Abdullah Abdullah said he and his allies had won and insisted that he would form a government.
Both Abdullah and Ghani, have issued invitations to parallel swearing-in ceremonies on Monday.
The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Haroon Chakhansoori says 35 foreign ambassadors and representatives have been invited to the inauguration ceremony of President Ashraf Ghani.
“I congratulate to the people of Afghanistan. The representatives of 14 international institutions, 17 Pakistani politicians and around 4 thousand guests including Afghan youths and women have been invited to the ceremony that will attend today,” Chakhansoori told reporters.
This comes as after the swearing-in ceremony of President Ghani will be started on Monday evening.
The spokesman of the “Stability and Partnership” team, Feraidon Khozon says the priority is holding the inauguration ceremony which will be held in the next upcoming hours.
“All preparations have been taken and the guests are coming. There is traffic congestion in the city. Whenever all the guests attended the ceremony, the inauguration will be started,” Khozon told reporters.
“Efforts are underway, but the “Stability and Partnership” team is no longer waiting for negotiations. We presented our plans yesterday. But when the opposing team does not accept to resolve the crisis they are responsible for the start of a crisis. The program of swearing-in is normally underway,” he added.
This comes as Fazel Ahmad Manwai a member of Abdullah’s team has announced the postponement of the inauguration ceremony earlier on the day.
Afghan officials received top PTM leaders Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir at Torkham crossing. They are expected to attend President Ghani’s inauguration ceremony.
This comes as yesterday the two Pakistani human rights campaigners who were set to travel to Kabul on Sunday to attend Ghani’s swearing-in ceremony said that they were barred by their government at the airport.
President Ashraf Ghani has postponed the inauguration ceremony to Monday evening, Sediq Sediqqi said.
In the meantime, reports suggest that Abdullah Abdullah, who contested election results that declared his bitter rival and incumbent Ashraf Ghani as the president-elect, has also postponed a plan for a parallel swearing-in ceremony, a spokesman for Abdullah said on Monday.
The move followed the intervention of U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, said Omid Maisam, the spokesman, adding that it was contingent on Ghani also postponing his own swearing-in.
Both men issued invitations last week to parallel inauguration 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.