Kerry’s Afghan diplomacy runs into trouble

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Kabul: Afghanistan’s election crisis could run into further turmoil as the deal brokered by the US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday is already being disputed.

Disagreements among the two rival presidential candidates – Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah – over who will lead the inspection of the 8.1 million votes cast in the June 14 run-off is threatening to disrupt the positive deal.

The confusion is over whether Afghan or international institutions will lead the inspection of the marred votes. The dispute has raised alarm of the country’s political crisis worsening the battle with growing insurgency.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber driving a truck packed with explosives killed at least 89 people in a crowded market in the south-eastern province of Paktika, according to the Afghan Defense Ministry.

The White House had dispatched Kerry to Kabul last week to forestall possible violence after candidate Abdullah Abdullah’s threatened to declare his own government. An ambitious deal to recount the votes and form a national unity government was clinched in marathon talks.

However, the audit of the ballots meant to begin on Monday, with announcement of the accord within 24 hours, was postponed indefinitely to address technical disputes, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) said.