Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed today for the two men vying to succeed him to end their dispute over election results and save the country from further violence and economic decline.
Afghanistan has been paralysed for months after the first round of the presidential election failed to produce a clear winner and the second round of voting in June triggered allegations of massive fraud.
As fears grew of a return to civil war, the United States brokered an emergency deal designed to end the impasse between Mr Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank economist, and former anti-Taliban fighter Mr Abdullah Abdullah.
But neither candidate appears willing to back down, and the dispute looks set to erupt again as results emerge from an anti-fraud audit of all eight million votes and pressure builds for the new president to be in place within weeks.
“I hope we stay united… so that our country is led toward peace and prosperity,” Mr Karzai said in a speech in Kabul to mark Independence Day.
“I hope that Afghanistan’s election has a result soon. The people are waiting impatiently for the result.
“I hope both of our brothers… reach an agreement so that Afghanistan soon has an inclusive government in which nobody is left out.”