Afghanistan celebrates 95 years of independence today.
President Hamid Karzai, along with the two presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, attended a special ceremony at the Ministry of Defense to commemorate the recognition of Afghanistan as an independent nation by the British Empire. US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement in honor of the celebration on behalf of President Obama and the United States reiterating our continued partnership with Afghanistan as well as US support for a democratic transition of presidential power.
“With millions of Afghans across your great nation braving violence and intimidation to cast their ballots, it is critical that all parties honor those voters’ aspiration for a democratic, peaceful transfer of power that unifies the country,” wrote Secretary Kerry. “We will continue to strongly support the democratic process and the agreement reached between the two candidates concerning the formation of a national unity government.”
Noting the contributions of ordinary Afghan men and women to the peace and continued redevelopment of the country, Kerry pledged an ongoing relationship between the US and Afghanistan. “As Afghans stand up, we will stand with you,” said Kerry, “and the American people look forward to many more years of friendship and partnership with the inspiring people of Afghanistan.”
Final election results for the Afghan presidential race have not yet been released. The first-round of elections took place in April. Because none of the presidential candidates won at least 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election was held between the top two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. Following disputes about the election process, Secretary Kerry visited Afghanistan to meet with both candidates and current president Karzai. The negotiations produced an agreement to audit all of the runoff election votes before determining the winner of the presidential race and to create a national unity government to share political power.
Both Abdullah and Ghani have indicated that they will sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States, which specifies that the US will continue to provide assistance to strengthen the security and stability of Afghanistan and will work with Afghanistan to continue coordinating counter-terrorism efforts. The candidates also signed a petition for women’s rights, which calls for women’s empowerment with the goals of equality in education and leadership and an end to violence against women.
Media Resources: TOLO News 8/19/14; US Department of State Press Statement 8/18/14; Feminist Newswire 6/16/14, 6/13/14, 6/5/14, 4/4/14; Feminist Majority Foundation Blog 8/5/14