US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kabul yesterday to pressure feuding presidential candidates to resolve the disputed election result that risks triggering instability as Nato troops withdraw.
Allegations of massive fraud in Afghanistan's June election tipped the country into a political crisis, with the United Nations voicing fears that the contested outcome could revive the ethnic divisions of the 1990s civil war.
Kerry last month negotiated a deal in which poll rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah agreed to an audit of all eight million votes, and for the winner to form a national unity government.
But the deal has made little progress due to further disagreements between the candidates, and no date has yet been set for the delayed presidential inauguration.
According to preliminary election results, former World Bank economist Ghani easily won the run-off vote. But Abdullah, a former anti-Taliban resistance fighter, alleged massive ballot-box stuffing and refused to accept the result, with his supporters urging him to set up a "parallel government".