The overlap of the US-Taliban peace talks and the presidential campaigns raises a question: can the scheduled presidential election or the ongoing peace talks bring sustainable peace in the country?
With the eight round of peace negotiation
between the US representatives and the Taliban officials continue in Doha, the Afghan
presidential candidates launch election campaigns to win presidential election
scheduled for September 2019. The election campaigns take place whereas fighting
between Afghan forces and the Taliban insurgents claim lives on daily basis.
Many Afghan presidential
candidates prioritize peace talks, while others put first the presidential election,
kicking off campaigns to win the presidential race.
Ashraf Ghani, the incumbent president, who is running
for 2019 presidential election, launched election campaign on July 28, seeking
a reelection. The incumbent president, whose government has been sidelined in US-Taliban
peace talks, prioritizes presidential election to peace talks.
“The problem is that they
[Afghan warlords] want to receive thousands of dollars as daily stipend,” said Ashraf
Ghani, referring to crackdown on warlords.
“Do not disrupt peace process
by ceremonial works,” President Ghani explicitly referred to US-Taliban peace
talks, in which the Taliban have refused to have a direct talks with his
government. “We, the government, are committed to peace but we do not let the
people, who are not committed to peace, destroy peace process.”
Speaking in a campaign rally,
Mr. Ghani vowed that in his reelection, he would finance the Afghan security forces
by national revenues, removing Afghan forces’ dependence from foreign money.
On July 28, Abdullah Abdullah,
the incumbent chief executive of National Unity Government, who is also running
for 2019 presidential election, launched campaign. Abdullah criticized his
partner, Ashraf Ghani, and accused him of centralizing the power. “We seek a
peace deal that assures rights of citizens of the country,” said Abdullah. “We
are ready to make sacrifice to restore peace.”
Speaking among his supporters, Mr. Abdullah promised that he would work on security, economic development and improving ties with regional countries and international community.
Rahmatullah Nabil, former chief
of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, was the third presidential nominee, who launched
campaign to win the election race. On August 3, Nabil addressed a crowd of his
supporters, who had gathered in Loya Jirga tent. He criticized President
Ashraf’s government, saying it was time for a new candidate to take the lead of
Nabil, whose running mate is
former minister Masuda Jalali and Gen. Murda Ali Murda, pledged that his
government would give equal opportunities to citizens, distribute the resources
equally among all ethnic groups, and give equal space to Afghanistan’s youths to
take over key positions in national institutions.
presidential campaign heats up amid intensified diplomatic efforts by the
United States to end the 18 years long insurgency in Afghanistan. Senior US
diplomats started a fresh round of peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar’s
capital Doha on Saturday, describing it to be the “most crucial” phase of negotiations.
round of talks take shape after US officials underlined that the Trump
administration was preparing to pull out thousands of troops from Afghanistan
in exchange for concession from the Taliban, including a cease-fire and a
complete renunciation of Al-Qaeda.
in peace talks, which raised hope for ending the ruthless Afghan war, pushed many
Afghan politicians to prefer peace deal with the Taliban over holding presidential
election. Hamid Karzai, the ex-president of Afghanistan, talking in a televised
press conference, said that the presidential election at this time did not
serve interests of the country.
peace talks nor the election has made a significant difference in the combat
between the pro-Afghan government forces and the Taliban insurgents. The
upcoming election, however, is expected to be bloody.
first day of presidential campaign, suicide squad targeted the Green Trend
headquarter, political office of Amrullah Saleh, a running mate of Afghan
President Ashraf Ghani. The attack killed 20 people and left 50 others wounded,
according to Afghan officials.
Taliban denied responsibility for attack, though Saleh, who served as spy chief
of the country, accused the group for the attack on his office.