New Afghan President sworn in, will sign pact with US

AsrafAfter tumultuous election campaign and deadlock over results in the polls, Afghanistan finally has a new President.

Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in as the President on September 29.

This marks a new era in Afghan politics as a national unity government is set to take over from former President Hamid Karzai and fight a resilient Taliban insurgency.

The new government will also be looking to sign an agreement with the United States that would guarantee prolonged American military presence in the landlocked country.

The new unity government was arranged under a US-brokered deal in which Ghani shares power with the runner-up Abdullah Abdullah who was the Chief Executive.

Ghani, a former World Bank economist, swore to protect the Afghan people, work for long-term peace and promised to tackle corruption.

“Security is a main demand of our people, and we are tired of this war,” said Ghani.

He also noted, “We ask opponents of the government, especially the Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami [another militant group], to enter political talks.”

A day after the swearing-in, the new Afghan leadership is expected to sign a security agreement that provides a legal framework for the United States to keep about 9,800 troops in the country to train, advise and assist Afghan national security forces after the current international combat mission ends on December 31, 2014.

That number of troops is expected to be reduced by half by the end of 2015, and decreased to about 1,000 after the end of 2016.

The Afghan government is also expected to sign an agreement this week with NATO that would outline the parameters of 4,000 to 5,000 after the end of the 2014.

The withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan has been a major concern for global and regional leadership.

Simultaneously, on September 29, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the US should withdraw from Afghanistan in a slow and well calibrated manner as to avoid the mistakes made in Iraq.

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