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Stoltenberg Urges Afghan Leaders to Avoid Tensions

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KABUL: Amidst crisis ignited over controversial September presidential election, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement said any concerns about the electoral process should be addressed according to constitutional and legal procedures.       

“I note the final results of last September’s presidential election announced by the Independent Election Commission. I commend the determination of the Afghan people, who exercised their democratic right to vote in the elections, and I pay tribute to the Afghan security forces, who served with professionalism and bravery to secure the vote. Any concerns about the electoral process should be addressed according to constitutional and legal procedures,” the statement quoted him as saying.

He called on all Afghan political actors to refrain from taking steps that would escalate tensions and undermine political stability. “I urge all Afghans to demonstrate national unity in support of the peace process. This is a time when all responsible political forces must engage in dialogue and unite behind the peace process, which is the priority for all Afghans.”

NATO remains firmly committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability. “We continue to provide the Afghan security forces with training and financial support, so that they can fight terrorism and create the conditions for peace,” he added.

Electoral body had recently announced President Ashraf Ghani as winner of the September 28th Afghan election, in which his main rival and his 50 percent partner in the National Unity Government, Abdullah Abdullah had strongly rejected the result, vowing installation of his own government.

He had already appointed five governors in the northern provinces, making difficult the future political landscape of the country aimed ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.

Both—Ghani and Abdullah announced their oath-taking ceremony to be held today (Thursday), but US top peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in a tweet said the ceremony has been postponed till 9th of March.

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