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Afghan President-elect Vows Strong Unity Government

Afghan president-elect Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai speaks in his first public appearance since being declared winner in the election runoff, in Kabul, Sept. 22, 2014.

Afghanistan’s president-elect, Ashraf Ghani, in a nationally televised speech on Monday, vowed to form a strong “national unity government” that he says will be accountable to the people, eliminate corruption, and establish peace in the war-torn country.

A day after the Afghan election commission declared him president of the country, Ashraf Ghani delivered his victory speech to a big gathering of political allies, supporters and campaign workers in Kabul.

He congratulated the Afghan electorate for “turning the page and writing a new chapter” through their vote to ensure the country's first peaceful transfer of power from one elected government to another.

Ghani said “those lacking understanding of this nation were skeptical about whether a peaceful democratic transfer of power would be possible,” but they can see now it has happened.

He urged Afghans to help him build up the nation and put the past behind them. The president-elect promised to ensure “merit in every sector of the government” saying it will be a government of transparency, accountability and one with no room for “nepotism.”

Ghani said Afghanistan’s stability is a priority and he believes political problems need political solutions because conflicts cannot solve them. He added that the votes Afghans have cast for him were actually votes for peace and security.

The former finance minister said, “It is our strong desire and God-willing, peace will be restored [in Afghanistan] because we are tired of conflicts.” He went to on to say that the word “killing' must be removed from our dictionaries.”

Ghani was named president-elect Sunday, hours after he signed a power-sharing agreement with his election rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, to end months of political turmoil.

Both claimed victory in the bitterly disputed June 14 presidential runoff vote that was marred by allegations of mass vote-rigging. Abdullah’s supporters had threatened to establish a parallel government, triggering fears of ethnic clashes like those that plagued Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Under the deal the new president will share power with a chief executive Abdullah will propose, and the two will jointly decide who leads key financial and security institutions.

Ghani dismissed criticism of the political understanding, saying the national unity government does not mean a power-sharing government.

The president-elect said he, together with Abdullah, is determined to ensure implementation of election promises. “It will not be a government with two heads but a government seeking one objective,” he added.

The Taliban on Monday dismissed the power-sharing deal as a sham and vowed to continue their insurgency.

Washington pressed Ghani and Abdullah to agree to form a national unity government to break the election deadlock. It wants the new Afghan president to sign a security pact to allow a residual American force to remain in the country after most foreign troops withdraw by the end of this year.

Both Ghani and Abdullah promised in their election campaigns they would sign the agreement with the United States.

Ghani will be sworn in as president by the end of this month, tentatively September 29, and the new chief executive is also expected to take the oath the same day.