The United States wants Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to defer his second-term inauguration.
The US emphasized Ghani`s taking oath could inflame an election feud with his political rival and jeopardize US-led peacemaking efforts, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Ghani claimed victory last week in a disputed Sept. 28 election and plans to take the oath of office on Thursday, an Afghan official said.
His opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, Ghani’s former deputy, also proclaimed himself the winner and is planning a parallel inauguration, according to Afghan media reports.
The competing claims, neither of which Washington has recognized, threaten a US-led peace process that got a boost on Saturday with the start of a week-long reduction in violence that is to culminate on Saturday with the signing of a US-Taliban deal on a US troop withdrawal.
The US-Taliban agreement is to be followed by inter-Afghan talks on a political settlement to end decades of war.
But the Ghani-Abdullah feud threatens to further complicate the naming of a delegation to negotiate with the insurgents, a process already mired in delays and disputes.
A source familiar with the matter said that because of those concerns, US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been in Kabul since last week, wants Ghani to delay his planned inauguration to a second five-year term.
The US State Department and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Afghan Embassy in Washington declined comment.
President Donald Trump has made the withdrawal of the roughly 13,000 US service members from Afghanistan a major foreign policy objective. An agreement with the Taliban to end America’s longest war could boost Trump’s re-election prospects.
A former senior Afghan official said Khalilzad, an Afghan-born veteran US diplomat, was pressing Ghani to postpone the ceremony and trying to persuade Abdullah to do the same to preserve the peace process.
The sources requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.