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  1. Afghanistan Main Page
  2. Soviet Invasion
  3. The Rise of the Taliban
  4. The U.S. Responds to the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks
  5. Reemergence of the Taliban
  6. Taliban Attacks Become More Deadly
  7. Afghanistan Holds Second Direct Presidential Elections
  8. Support for the War on the Wane
  9. Osama bin Laden Is Killed
  10. Violence and Assassinations Diminish Confidence in Afghanistan's Security Forces
  11. U.S. Begins to Reduce Its Role in Afghanistan as Relationship Deteriorates
  12. Karzai Rejects Security Deal with U.S.
  13. Presidential Election Marred by Allegations of Fraud; Unity Government Formed
  14. Taliban Detainees Released in Prisoner Swap With U.S.; U.S. General Killed
  15. U.S. and NATO End Combat Operation in Afghanistan
  16. President Ghani Announces Cabinet Months After Taking Office; Visit With Obama Results in Additional U.S. Support
  17. Taliban Founder Reportedly Dead
  18. Taliban Captures Kunduz, Doctors Without Borders Hospital Hit in Airstrike
Presidential Election Marred by Allegations of Fraud; Unity Government Formed

April's elections were successful for the high voter turnout and the lack of violence or attempts to disrupt the vote. About 60% of registered voters turned out to vote for president and provincial councils. The Taliban had threatened to interfere with the election and warned Afghanis not to vote, but citizens seemed to have ignored the threats. In the weeks leading up to the elections, the Taliban attacked a voter registration center and the election commission headquarters, but there were few reports of violence on election day. Eight candidates ran for president. Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, took about 45%, followed by Ashraf Ghani, a former minister of finance and World Bank official, who garnered 31.5%, necessitating a runoff election.

The runoff was held on June 14, and there were widespread allegations of fraud. Abdullah claimed the race was rigged, saying the election commission and Karzai conspired against him. Ghani and Karzai are both Pashtuns, while Abdullah Abdullah's ethnicity is Tajik-Pashtun. Abdullah refused to accept any decision reached by the country's election commission, and threatened to form a parallel government. Preliminary results put Ghani ahead, 56.4% to 43.6%. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Kabul to try to work out a compromise between Ghani and Abdullah. After an intense 12-hour negotiation session, the parties agreed that each of the 8.1 million votes cast would be audited. The winner would form a unity government, with the second-place finisher serving as chief executive of the government. For the moment, the compromise seemed to save the country from falling into a civil war.

The 2014 election controversy echoed that of the 2009 runoff between Karzai and Abdullah, which was also marred by allegations of fraud. Abdullah withdrew from the race in protest of the Karzai administration's refusal to dismiss election officials accused of taking part in the widespread fraud.

Three months after the controversial runoff election, Ghani and Abdullah agreed in September to form a unity government with Ghani as president and Abdullah in the newly formed position of chief executive, a role similar to that of prime minister. The agreement followed a month of negotiations led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Abdullah will report to Ghani but will oversee daily government operations. It is not entirely clear who will ultimately wield more power, which may prove problematic. The new government must deal with a resurgent Taliban that stepped up its attacks during the electio turmoil and an economy in tatters. Ghani was inaugurated on September 29, and the next day signed the bilateral security agreement with the U.S., which will govern the status of the U.S. troops who remain in the country after the U.S. formally ends the combat mission at the end of 2014. The troops will train Afghan security forces and participate in counterterrorism missions.

Next: Taliban Detainees Released in Prisoner Swap With U.S.; U.S. General Killed
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