İrem UZUN -TDO- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was sworn in for a second term on Monday but his main rival refused to recognize the inauguration and held his own swearing-in ceremony as a rival president. Both Ghani and former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah say they are Afghanistan’s rightful leader following a disputed election last September, a stand-off that threatens political chaos days after the United States and the Taliban signed a deal on the withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces.
The electoral commission says incumbent Ashraf Ghani narrowly won September's vote, but Abdullah Abdullah alleges the result is fraudulent. The old rivals both held positions in the previous government. Experts warned the current political rivalry would "gravely affect the government's position in the upcoming intra-Afghan talks", which are due to begin on Tuesday. Abdullah held his ceremony a short distance away at Sapedar Palace, which he used as his office during his tenure as Afghanistan's chief executive in the last government. The ceremony went ahead despite his team earlier saying they would be prepared to cancel it, following the intervention of U.S. Special Representative Khalilzad.
Ghani’s ceremony was disrupted by the sound of two rockets hitting the edge of the compound of the presidential palace compound in the capital Kabul, a witness said, but there was no word of any casualties and he continued his speech. "We have seen bigger attacks. Don't be afraid of just two blasts," Ghani said as he raised his hands to calm the crowd, which included many foreign dignitaries. The Islamic State extremist group later claimed responsibility for the rocket attack that targeted the inauguration. "Caliphate soldiers targeted the inauguration of the tyrant Ashraf Ghani," by firing 10 rockets near the presidential palace in Kabul, IS said in a statement released on social media outlets.