Amid rifts, Afghan gov’t finalizes list of delegates for talks
List of negotiation team for intra-Afghan talks has been finalized and its details will be made public once the date for starting the intra-Afghan talks is set, said Waheed Omer, director general at Office of Public and Strategic Affairs of the Afghan government.
According to the US-Taliban peace
agreement signed on February 29, the intra-Afghan talks was scheduled to kick
off on March 10, after prisoner swap between the Afghan government and the
President Ghani opposed the agreement
on prisoners release the following day, March 01, but changed his stance while
taking oath for another term in office after a long delayed inauguration
ceremony. In his new stance, Ghani offered a phased and condition-based release
of the Taliban prisoners.
Ghani’s plan was, however, immediately
rejected by the Taliban’s spokesperson for the group’s political office in Qatar,
Suhail Shaheen. He reiterated that they wanted the release of 5,000 Taliban
prisoners in line with the peace accord signed with the US. “Our very condition
is that the detainees are acceptable if verified by our team,” he added.
Speaking at a press conference in Kabul
today, March 15, Mr. Omer said that the Afghan government is currently working
on a list of the Taliban prisoners to classify, evaluate, and identify them in
accordance to their age and type of crimes. As he stated, the Taliban prisoners
will be released gradually based on the “evaluations” of the Afghan government.
Pointing to political tensions raised
as the result of Afghanistan’s disputed presidential elections, Mr. Omer said
that Mohammad Ashraf Ghani is the elected president of Afghanistan.
In his latest confrontation with
Abdullah, in a decree, Ghani dissolved Office of the Chief Executive of the National
Unity Government (NUG), established in 2014.
In a counteract move, Abdullah announced that the NUG’s term was over
and Ghani is no longer the president of Afghanistan. Abdullah noted that he will
introduce the new chief executive soon.
On March 12, Abdullah said that he had discussed the ongoing situation and peace issue with the UN’s Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, in Sapidar palace. “President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, met with the UN’s special representative for Afghanistan, Yamamoto, this morning, March 12,” part of the statement issued on his official Facebook page reads.
On March 13, Mr. Yamamoto was summoned
by deputy and acting foreign minister, Mohammad Haroon Chakhansuri. “Discussing
matters related to Afghan politics must not be in contradiction to the
Constitution of Afghanistan and international norms,” the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MFA) quoted Mr. Chakhansuri as reminding to the UN’s envoy for his
meeting with Abdullah. According to the ministry, Mr. Yamamoto has responded
that the UN is neither recognizing, nor supporting any parallel government
while passing congratulatory message of the UN’s Secretary General, Antonio
Guterres, for President Ghani’s inauguration.
Efforts underway to create
Though the US special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, failed to bring the two rivals under another power-sharing government, foreign and national mediators appear to put efforts to bring the two rivals in common terms. According to Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, Khalilzad has said US officials were trying to mediate an agreement between Ghani and Abdullah.
Former president Hamid Karzai and a prominent jihadi leader, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, have also attempted to convince Ghani and Abdullah on forming a government acceptable by all parties.
Meanwhile, second vice president of Abdullah, Assadullah Saadati, told Kabul Now that there is no possibility of integrating the “inclusive government” announced by Abdullah into a government led by Ashraf Ghani.