Afghanistan’s top political rivals signalled a breakthrough in power-sharing talks on Friday, raising hopes for stable leadership amid a coronavirus outbreak and ahead of much-anticipated peace talks with Taliban insurgents.

Abdullah Abdullah, who disputed President Ashraf Ghani’s re-election in a fraud-tainted vote last September, said efforts to “resolve the political crisis have borne fruit”.

“We have made progress in negotiations and reached tentative agreement on a range of principles,” Dr Abdullah said in a statement on Friday.

“We hope to finalise the political agreement at the earliest so that we can pay undivided attention to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring a just, dignified and lasting peace, and confronting the security and economic challenges in a spirit of national unity and solidarity.”

Dr Abdullah had declared himself president and held a parallel inauguration ceremony after the election commission declared Mr Ghani re-elected in February. However, the two leaders have been involved in negotiations since then, with some pressure from the US administration.

A power-sharing framework purportedly proposed by Dr Abdullah, released by the Afghan investigative magazine Hastesubh, lists issues ranging from appointments in ministries and local governments to defining the roles of the leader and his allies.

The document proposes that Dr Abdullah hold the title of Executive Prime Minister for Peace, with the authority to lead meetings of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council meetings and in related matters.

A close aide to Dr Abdullah confirmed the document’s veracity to The National, and said that a deal was close to being finalised.

“The draft circulating in the media is not the latest, but one of the earlier drafts that was shared [by Dr Abdullah] with [US peace envoy Zalmay] Khalilzad before the two inaugurations,” he said.

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