President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah are not in agreement over the formation of a negotiating team to hold talks with the Taliban.
The intra-Afghan talks must begin by March 10, according to the terms set by the signed US-Taliban deal, which was signed on Saturday, Feb. 29, in Doha.
President Ghani, who spoke at a press conference in Kabul on Sunday, suggested that the negotiating team should not have more than eight members as it will create "teams within teams" if it is more than that. But he said that a council will be formed within the next five days to form the negotiating team.
The government has nine days to form a negotiating team according to the US-Taliban agreement and the Afghanistan-US joint declaration.
(Also within the next nine days, according to the agreement, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners should be released to open the way for intra-Afghan negotiations – probably in Doha. But on Sunday, Ghani at a press conference said there had been no commitment from the Afghan government's side go ahead with the release.)
Regarding the team, Ghani said: “International experience shows that if a delegation has more than eight members, different delegations will be formed within it.”
President Ghani also said that consultations have been made on forming the negotiating team. But Abdullah Abdullah, who addressed an event in Kabul on Saturday, accused the Presidential Palace of monopolizing the peace process and he said it was the reason why some politicians did not attend Saturday’s ceremony announcing the Afghan-US declaration.
“Sending a team from the Presidential Palace to Doha, without consulting with other people in Afghanistan, as representatives of Afghanistan… these were the issues which caused the absence of a big number of politicians in that ceremony,” Abdullah said, referring to a secret delegation made up delegates chosen by the Afghan government to make contact with the Taliban about matters relating to the peace process.
The politicians who did not attend the event were former president Hamid Karzai, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the head of the High Peace Council, Mohammad Karim Khalili, the second deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiq and the First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum.
Another politician, who is the CEO of Jamiat-e-Islami party and a supporter of Ghani, said that bringing the Taliban to the government is not possible without establishing a transitional government, which, according to him, should be formed within the next three or four months.
“No doubt, participation of the Taliban (in power) is impossible without forming a transitional government, or a reconciliation government, or a peace government,” Noor said.
There is a belief among some politicians that the rift within the government will end soon after international and internal pressure is increased.
“International and internal pressures are there. I am sure that both the politicians and the government will ultimately reach an agreement,” said Akram Khpulwak, former head of the secretariat of the High Peace Council.