KABUL, Afghanistan — With a historic presidential runoff election rapidly approaching, Afghanistan is at a crossroads. Will the two remaining candidates continue to push forward to the scheduled June 14 runoff? Or will they recognize that, for all their differences, the best interests of the nation require them to forge an alliance?
Afghanistan, more than ever before, appears to be making meaningful progress towards stable democracy, as President Hamid Karzai prepares to cede the reins of power to his duly elected successor after more than 12 years in office as required by the Afghan constitution. This will be the nation’s first democratic transfer of power.
At the same time, the very fact that a run-off election is necessary points to looming dangers rooted in Afghanistan’s fierce and often bloody ethnic rivalries. This is an especially precarious moment as most foreign troops prepare to leave Afghanistan by the end of the year, barring a new agreement.
Facing off in the final round are frontrunner Abdullah Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban Northern Alliance leader, and former World Bank executive Ashraf Ghani.
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