Ghani to Decide on Taliban Prisoners’ Release Tuesday; Competing swearing-in ceremonies

Tolo News
9 March 2020
Ghani said the negotiating team will be finalized by Tuesday and it has been formed after broad consultations.
President Ashraf Ghani, who took the oath of office for president for a second term on Monday, vowed to issue a decree on the release of Taliban prisoners on Tuesday, and he also said that on the same day the negotiating team will be finalized.

The release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners from the Afghan government’s custody is part of the US-Taliban deal that is intended to open the way for intra-Afghan negotiations, for which Ghani’s administration must announce a negotiating team.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the US charge de affaires Ross Wilson, the US and NATO forces commander Gen. Scott Miller and the ambassadors of the EU, Canada, Australia, Spain, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Bahrain, China, Indonesia, Turkmenistan India, and Pakistan attended the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace.

“I will issue a decree tomorrow (Tuesday) on the details of the process,” Ghani said, referring to the prisoners’ release. “Fortunately, we have achieved a framework so that there is a comprehensive reduction in violence in exchange for the prisoners’ release.”

He said the negotiating team will be finalized on Tuesday.

“This negotiating team has been finalized after consultations with influential figures, members of the civil society, women, youths and representatives of the ulema and different levels of people,” Ghani added.

He also said that his new cabinet will be formed within the next two weeks.

“The government that I will form in the near future will not be a monopoly of the State Builder team (Ghani’s campaign team),” he added. “The end of the election is the victorious views and thoughts of the republic.”

He condemned Saturday’s attack in Kabul in which over 30 people – all civilians – were killed and more than 80 others were wounded. Ghani said the attack showed that there is an “invisible” but “basic” relation between the Taliban and Daesh.

His speech was disrupted for some moments after rockets landed in and near the Presidential Palace compound in an attack that was later claimed by Daesh, according to AFP.

“This is not an armored vest, these are clothes. This is for the sacrifice of the Afghan people. I am ready for sacrifice,” Ghani said amid explosions.

Ghani encouraged the gathering not to worry about losing their achievements from the past eighteen years, as they will be preserved under the republic.

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9 March 2020

Amid Controversy, Ghani Takes Oath of Office

CE Abdullah, citing “fraud” in election, held swearing-in ceremony for himself as well.

Ashraf Ghani, at a ceremony held at the Presidential Palace in Kabul on Monday afternoon, has been sworn in as president for a second term.

The US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, US Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson, and US, NATO forces commander Gen. Scott Miller, as well as ambassadors from the EU, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Norway attended the ceremony.

Some prominent Afghan politicians did not attend, including former President Hamid Karzai, Abd Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, former mujahideen leader and Younus Qanuni, former vice president.

Ghani was announced the winner by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) amid controversy involving technical problems and allegations of fraud.

Abdullah, citing “fraud” in the process, has held a swearing-ceremony for himself as well.

The electoral crisis increased after the final results were announced by the IEC on February 19.

Hours after the announcement of the results, Abdullah announced the formation of an “inclusive government” by his Stability and Convergence campaign team, declaring his “victory” in the polls.

Abdullah said decisions on disputed votes were “illegal,” adding that the IEC’s results were a coup against democracy and that he does not accept them.

On Sunday, Abdullah’s office confirmed that US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Monday held three meetings with the chief executive to “find a solution” for the matter but apparently did not succeed. Despite that, Abdullah’s deputy spokesman, Fraidoon Khwazoon, said hopes still to remain.

Late Sunday night sources told TOLOnews that President Ghani and CE Abdullah had met, but sources said no agreement had been reached on the election standoff.

The swearing-ceremony was delayed for several hours in order to allow for further attempts to end the crisis, but the ceremonies were held after apparently no progress was made.

On Monday, a document seen by TOLOnews, and confirmed by a number of people close to both sides, indicated that President Ghani offered a power-sharing plan to Chief Executive Abdullah in the areas of security, governance and peace.

President Ghani offered 40% of his cabinet, including one National Security Council member post, to be filled with Abdullah allies, and he also offered the chairmanship of a “Supreme Peace Council” to Abdullah, which would engage in negotiations with the Taliban (The document also mentioned that the Chair of the Peace Council would report to the president.)

Based on Ghani’s proposal, all national security ministries and institutions would report exclusively to the president.

President Ghani had proposed to Abdullah the role of “leader of the opposition,” and that he would also become head of the proposed Supreme Peace Council.

Abdullah, according to people close to him, demanded that the government shouldn’t be formed based on the election results, adding that the election results should be nullified and then the power-sharing set-up should be discussed in detail.

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Tolo News
9 March 2020

Abdullah Takes Oath to Lead Parallel Govt

Abdullah Abdullah, at a parallel swearing-in ceremony in Kabul on Tuesday, took an oath of office as a self-proclaimed president and vowed to establish an inclusive government, focusing on peace and governance reforms.

President Ghani, at the nearby Presidential Palace, also held a swearing-in ceremony and took a presidential oath. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, US Charge d’Affaires Ross Wilson and Gen. Scott Miller were in attendance, along with a number of other ambassadors and leaders.

Abdullah, while opposed to a power-sharing deal similar to the National Unity Government’s agreement in 2014, said he is nonetheless interested in talks to solve tensions.

“The funeral of democracy would have been held if this time we accepted the result of ‘fraud,’” Abdullah said. “Now I am your president and servant; without discrimination.”

He did not talk about his cabinet but insisted that the peace process, and talks with the Taliban, will be a priority.

“The first priority of our government is creating political stability and forming a negotiating team. We are committed to sacrificing to achieve peace and we will not spare self-sacrifice in this case,” Abdullah said. “Our government is a national reconciliation and reforms government.”

Sources told TOLOnews that Ghani offered Abdullah a 40% share in power, but the two sides could not reach an agreement despite efforts by Afghan and foreign politicians ahead of the dual swearing-in ceremonies in Kabul.

“This time, the will of Afghans is that they should say no to ‘fraud’ and endorse the transparent votes of the people,” said Basir Salangi, a member of Abdullah’s team.

“It is at least five decades now that we are moving towards calamity and a new calamity will begin and the responsibility will be on those who are interfering in all issues,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.

Ghani to Decide on Taliban Prisoners’ Release Tuesday; Competing swearing-in ceremonies