A breakthrough in talks between Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan and the Presidential Palace (ARG) is close, said Afzal Hadid, a close aide to the ousted governor Atta Mohammad Noor of northern Balkh province on Monday.
“Following negotiations between Atta Mohammad Noor and representatives of the Presidential Palace (ARG) the two sides have inched very close to a final settlement,” Hadid said.
Some media outlets have reported that Noor has agreed to step down and that a new governor will be appointed in consultation with Noor. However, there has been no confirmation regarding these reports.
But sources told TOLOnews, on condition of anonymity, that the two sides are likely to resume their negotiations in Kabul within a few days.
According to Hadid, the ARG delegation, which comprised of the head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) Masoom Stanekzai and Abdul Salam Rahimi, the head of office of the president, held talks on behalf of the government with Noor this past weekend.
However, no details have been released regarding the discussions.
“Mr. Stanekzai and Mr. Rahimi held meetings with the Balkh governor. Although details of the talks were not shared with us, we can say it with confidence that the door for settling the tensions has opened,” said Hadid.
But Zabi Fetrat, a spokesman for Jamiat, disputes this and said no delegation was in Balkh on behalf of the presidential palace. He also rejected claims that talks were held with Stanekzai and Rahimi.
This comes a day after Afghan Minister of Interior Wais Ahmad Barmak said the central government is close to settling the matter of Balkh’s governorship with Noor.
“Consultations have been done, we are in touch with Ustad Atta, it will be resolved soon and there will be no crisis, agreements are closer, and they will provide an outcome in the next few days,” said Barmak.
On December 18, the Presidential Palace said in a statement that the president approved Noor’s resignation.
After approving Noor’s resignation, Ghani appointed Engineer Mohammad Dawood as the new governor for Balkh.
But Noor rejected to move, setting up a number of preconditions for government in exchange for his resignation.
Local residents in the provincial capital Mazar-e-Sharif also called on the two sides to end the ongoing political impasse and instead focus on issues of national interest.
“Disagreements between ARG and Balkh must be resolved as soon as possible,” said one Balkh resident Naseer.