Ghani sworn in as Afghan president for second term
KABUL - Incumbent Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani was sworn in for a second five-year term on Monday, while his main election rival and government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also held a parallel presidential swearing-in ceremony.
Afghanistan's Chief Justice Sayed Yousuf Haleem administered Ghani's swearing-in ceremony at the fortified Presidential Palace.
"The election process has ended... today I call on every Afghan, men, women, child and youth, particularly on political band that this government is yours," Ghani said in his speech after taking the oath.
"The division time has passed, today is the day of juncture, and today is the day of unity," Ghani said.
The ceremony was attended by hundreds of Afghan and foreign guests including U.S. Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, Commander of NATO's Resolute Support Mission and U.S. forces Gen. Austin Scott Miller and ambassadors from China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Germany, Canada, Italy among others.
At the same ceremony, Amrullah Saleh and Mohammad Sarwar Danish also took the oath of office as first and second vice president respectively.
Ghani issued the first presidential decree shortly after taking the oath, appointing Mohammad Yousuf Ghazanfar as the president's special envoy on development, economic, commercial and alleviation of poverty affairs.
The 71-year-old Ghani called on his political rivals to assist him in building a united and strong Afghanistan.
During his speech, Ghani also promised to continue the national reconciliation policy for achieving durable peace in the country and called on Taliban militants to join the peace process and resume their normal life.
"There is a need for profound negotiations and talks with Taliban," he said.
"We will form a coalition for peace and unity that would be 10 times more powerful than the coalition of war against us. Our strength has always been in our unity," he said.
Ghani noted that he would unveil the lineup of his government within two weeks that will be submitted to the parliament for approval.
At the same time, government Chief Executive Abdullah held a parallel oath taking ceremony in the nearby Sapedar Palace.
"Today I am the president, and the servant of all of you. Without any discrimination, I will be in the service of all people," Abdullah told the audience.
On Feb. 18, Afghanistan's election commission announced the final results of the Sept. 28, 2019 presidential poll and declared incumbent President Ghani as the winner.
Abdullah rejected the results and vowed to form a parallel inclusive government.
The election commission said that Ghani secured 50.64 percent of the votes, winning a second term, and Abdullah came in the second place with 39.52 percent of the votes.
More than 1.9 million out of 9.4 million registered voters cast their ballots in the presidential election, the fourth in Afghanistan since the collapse of the Taliban regime in late 2001.
During the ceremonies which were held in the compound of the two palaces, several rockets landed outside the fortified buildings, causing panic among the attendees.
It was not immediately clear whether the rocket explosions and ensuing gunfire caused any casualties.
"We are not afraid of explosions. If sacrifice is needed for Afghanistan, then I am here to sacrifice myself," Ghani said shortly after the rocket attack.