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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images

Tuesday's long-awaited announcement that Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani won re-election last September appears likely to deepen, rather than resolve, a tense dispute over the country's presidential election.

Why it matters: The U.S. has reached a truce with the Taliban that, if it holds, will lead to negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. That development comes amid a bitter dispute over who speaks for Afghanistan.

Driving the news: After months of delay, official results show Ghani receiving 50.6% of the vote, a whisker above the 50% threshold to avoid a runoff and 10 points ahead of challenger Abdullah Abdullah.

  • But Abdullah has also claimed victory and accused the electoral commission of "treason." He has a significant power base, and he's threatened to form a parallel government.
  • The U.S. had to intervene in 2014 when Ghani and Abdullah last faced off, brokering a delicate power-sharing deal.

What to watch: "Ghani's victory by such a small margin based on very low turnout is problematic," said Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center think tank.

  • "A leader with many rivals will be taking over with a small mandate, and that could undermine his legitimacy at a moment when he could soon be expected to put together a negotiating team and lead peace talks with the Taliban."

Go deeper

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

8 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

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