KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's two rival candidates have agreed to a complete audit of their contested presidential election and to form a national unity government, whoever the victor.
The deal, brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, offers a path out of what threatened to be a debilitating political crisis for Afghanistan, with both candidates claiming victory and talking of setting up competing governments.
Such a scenario could have dangerously split the fragile country's government and security forces at a time the U.S. is pulling out most of its troops and the Taliban continues to wage a fierce insurgency.
The audit, which comes after widespread fraud allegations, is expected to take several weeks, beginning with the ballot boxes in the capital of Kabul.
Boxes from the provinces will be flown to the capital by helicopter by U.S. and international forces and examined on a rolling basis. Representatives from each campaign as well as international observers will oversee the review, and the candidate with the most votes will be declared the winner and become president.