After months of political maneuvering and negotiations stemming from a disputed runoff, Afghanistan's two presidential candidates signed a power-sharing deal on Sunday that will make one president and the other chief executive.
Incoming president Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and new Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah signed the national unity government deal, which created the new role of chief executive after intense negotiations resulting from claims of fraud in the June runoff vote.
"I am very happy today that both of my brothers, Dr. Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, in an Afghan agreement for the benefit of this country, for the progress and development of this country, that they agreed on the structure affirming the new government of Afghanistan," said President Hamid Karzai, who has been in power since 2001.
With its plans to withdraw troops, the U.S. has been concerned about the political fragility of Afghanistan and made a national unity deal a top priority. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry first got the candidates to agree to the idea of a power-sharing structure during a July visit to Afghanistan with many follow-up phone calls and visits since then.
"This agreement marks an important opportunity for unity and increased stability in Afghanistan. We continue to call on all Afghans — including political, religious, and civil society leaders — to support this agreement and to come together in calling for cooperation and calm," the White House said in a statement.