Taliban reject Afghan president’s proposal for election

Published March 25, 2021
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar leaves after signing an agreement with the US during a ceremony in the Qatari capital Doha on February 29, 2020. — AFP/File
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar leaves after signing an agreement with the US during a ceremony in the Qatari capital Doha on February 29, 2020. — AFP/File

KABUL: The Taliban on Wednesday rejected a proposal by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to hold elections later this year, after months of peace talks between the two warring sides have made little progress.

Although he hasn’t made details public, Ghani will announce the election plan at a stakeholder conference in Turkey next month, according to two government officials.

The move is likely an attempt to undercut a US proposal — supported by Russia — for the formation of an interim government involving the Taliban to rule the country once the last US troops withdraw.

“The government will go to Turkey with a plan for an early election which is a fair plan for the future of Afghanistan,” one senior official said. The Taliban immediately rejected the proposal.

“Such processes (elections) have pushed the country to the verge of crisis in the past,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said of Ghani’s plan.

“They are now talking about a process that has always been scandalous,” he said, adding any decision on the country’s future must be hammered out in ongoing talks between the two sides. “We will never support it.”

The United States is due to withdraw the last of its troops by May 1 under a deal hammered out with the Taliban last year, although President Joe Biden said earlier this month the deadline would be “tough” to meet.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2021

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