Ashraf Ghani said yesterday that because the recount deadline is slipping, he is unsure that there will be an obligation for the winner of the election to fully share power with the loser. This refers to an agreement brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry to both recount the vote and diffuse tensions between the two candidates’ respective factions and reduce the possibility of two separate governments forming as a result of the election. Ghani stated that the deal that was reached with Abdullah was ambiguous and needs clarification.
Last week, Kerry had convinced both candidates to sign a power-sharing deal that would be contingent upon the audit of all 8.1 million ballots that were cast in the June runoff election. The deal called for the runner-up to be named to a new post, called the “chief executive” that would share control with the president over some key decisions, like nomination of several key cabinet positions. Ghani cast doubt on the selection of the chief executive, saying “dual authority is not possible,” and adding that, “the position of the chief executive will solely depend on the discretion of the president.”
To recap, Abdullah won a clear victory in the first round of the election in April but failed to win more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff. The preliminary results show that Ghani won the June runoff, but allegations of pervasive fraud and ballot-stuffing has created large doubts over who really won the majority, in turn raising tensions along ethnic lines.
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- Azerbaijan’s juggernaut Shah Deniz gas field has continued to increase its daily output of natural gas, with that figure rising to an estimated 27 million cubic meters of output per day. The gas is currently extracted from five separate wells operating in Shah Deniz, one of the world’s largest gas-condensate fields, and which currently fulfills Azerbaijan’s own consumption needs, as well provides a supply to Georgia, Turkey and to the European Union.
- Tajikistan has extended an amnesty to all of its citizens that are currently fighting as jihadists in Syria and/or Iraq. The government, which had previously responded harshly by revoking the citizenship of some Tajik fighters, has recently instituted an amnesty and uses the testimony of individuals such as Odiljon Pulatov, a returned freedom fighter who had left the country to fight in Syria. There are currently an estimated 200 Tajiks fighting in Syria, though precise figures are largely unavailable.
- Russia has promised a financial aid package of nearly $500 million to Kyrgyzstan in order to facilitate its introduction into the Eurasian Economic Union. The terms of the deal were likely negotiated during a meeting between the heads of state of the two countries, and listed Kyrgyzstan’s expected integration time to be towards the end of 2014.
- Newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dropped subtle hints that India’s traditionally hardline stance towards Kashmir may soften during his stint in office. The north central state of Jammu and Kashmir has been a hotbed of violent separatist activity over the last several years, as well as s source of conflict between India and Pakistan, which has been accused by India of providing fighters in the region with weapons and resources. Modi touched on the problems presented by large amounts of migrants entering Kashmir, and that the government will look to provide greater resources for workers currently unemployed.
- Mongolian officials affirmed that strengthening relations with China remains a top priority for the two countries. The relationships between the two countries, which look to collaborate in development projects, natural resources and in the economic sector, have recently begun to warm, though concerns of large relocations of Han Chinese into Inner Mongolia have threatened traditional Mongolian culture and created tensions between the two peoples.
- Turkmenistan has asked its populace to limit their usage of natural gas. The net exporter of natural gas currently allocates a generous 50 cubic meters of natural gas to each of its citizens, though that quota, which has no way of being tracked except on a net level, has been consistently rising. The Central Asian energy giant has attempted to curb the usage by charging fines of around $7 for over usage, though application has been slow.
- Six ethnic Han Chinese farmers were stabbed to death in Xinjiang province. The assault, but the latest incidence of violence in China’s troubled western province, appears t to form part of a concerted effort to sow fear in the hearts of ethnic Chinese that have been encouraged to migrate to the region from more populated areas of China. Radio Free Asia announced that seven men are suspected of the attack, and are likely to be identified as ethnic Uighurs, the traditional inhabitants of the region and in some cases outspoken opponents of the Chinese government.
- The United States has made it known that Iran must significantly limit its nuclear enrichment activities for a period of ten years in order any lasting deal to be brokered. The foreign ministers of the P5+1, as well as Iran, convened recently following reports that progress was deteriorating and that failure was imminent. Tensions have risen as the United States, in particular, has threatened to end talks if Iran did not take more serious steps to reduce the scope of its nuclear program.
- The troubles facing much-celebrated Uzbek first daughter Gulnara Karimova continue, with Radio Free Europe reporting that known associates of the controversial former diplomat were sentenced to more than six years in prison. Rustam Mudumarov and Gayane Avakian were sentenced on charges ranging from illegal business activities, money laundering and tax evasion, many of the same charges that had previously been levied against Karimova. It is uncertain whether or not Karimova has allowed her two former confidants to take the fall for her as she remains on house arrest near Tashkent.
- The Pakistani military has begun to implement large amounts of barb wire along the Afghan-Pakistani border, sparking Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s National Security Council to announce an investigation into the matter under the pretense of determining whether or not the wire is being installed in the correct demarcation points. The 2,640 km (1,640 mi) Durand Line separates the two countries and has been criticized consistently due to what critics cite as poor Pakistani border security.
- Ukraine will need to import up to 7.25 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas between August of 2014 and March 2015. The Ukrainian government announced the estimate this past weekend, and expects to reach its goal by importing the majority of its reserves from EU, by means of pipelines in Hungary, Poland Slovakia. Russia, Ukraine’s traditional supplier of energy, cut its supply of gas to Ukraine on June 16, and has yet to reopen relations with Kiev.