KABUL — Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani ruled out a coalition government with his rival Abdullah Abdullah on Saturday, quashing hopes for a power-sharing deal to defuse tensions that have threatened to split Afghanistan along ethnic lines. Ghani and Abdullah have locked horns since the June 14 second round run-off, accusing each other of trying to manipulate the vote and declaring victory in the contest to succeed Hamid Karzai as president.
Prompting speculation that a back-room power-sharing deal was in the making, officials have delayed the announcement of preliminary election results until Monday, potentially giving both candidates more time to find ways to end the impasse. But speaking to reporters on Saturday, Ghani explicitly denied he sought a coalition government. “People are concerned and the question they have been asking is if we have made any deal. Our answer is clear: we have not made any deal. We assure the people that we will not betray their votes,” Ghani said. The protracted dispute over the election has all but destroyed Western hopes for a smooth transition of power in Afghanistan.