Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah separate presidential inaugurations in Kabul

KABUL (HRNW) Afghanistan lurched deeper into political crisis Monday as the rivals for the country s leadership had themselves sworn in at simultaneous ceremonies that were interrupted by at least two blasts.

Polls were held in September, but repeated delays and accusations of voter fraud meant that Ghani, the incumbent president, was only declared as winner of a second term in February — sparking a furious response from Abdullah, who vowed to form his own parallel government.

On Monday Ghani, dressed in traditional Afghan clothing and white turban, arrived at the presidential palace to be sworn in, surrounded by supporters, senior political figures, diplomats and foreign dignitaries including US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

Minutes earlier, in another corner of the sprawling presidential palace compound, a suit-clad Abdullah inaugurated himself as president, vowing to “safeguard the independence, national sovereignty, territorial integrity” of Afghanistan.

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