The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived Monday in Kabul and is expected to address political tensions within the Afghan government, said a source close to the matter.
Internal feuding has been ongoing within the Afghan government between President Ashraf Ghani and his main rival in last September's presidential polls, Abdullah Abdullah, both of whom have declared themselves the country's president in dueling inauguration ceremonies earlier this month.
Pompeo plus a note-taker met with President Ghani and Ghani's rival Abdullah Abdullah separately and then met with both leaders together, during which time Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was also in attendance, according to sources. No breakthrough has been reported yet.
Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said that the peace process, a regional consensus for Afghan peace and security and political situation in the country were discussed in Ghani and Pompeo’s meeting at the Presidential Palace on Monday.
“I had the pleasure to welcome and exchange views with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the critical significance of the Afghan peace process as well as the need to resolve the current political crisis rooted in the recent election. We appreciate his efforts under the circumstances,” Abdullah tweeted.
On March 19, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells in a tweet said that the Afghan leaders must prioritize and protect the unity of the nation, saying that “parallel Afghan governments are not the answer, and will be harmful to the Afghan people.”
Back on March 9, Ambassador Khalilzad tired for hours to prevent parallel inaugurations by Ghani and Abdullah. But it happened.
During Khalilzad’s meetings on March 9, Abdullah demanded an executive prime minister’s role to oversee the peace process, and to hold sixty percent of the political posts in the government, which President Ghani rejected, sources said.
A document seen by TOLOnews on March 9, and confirmed by a number of people close to both sides, indicated that President Ghani proposed a power-sharing plan with 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.
In the governance section, the proposal states that the president would serve as a "unitary executive with president as head of state," and that the president will have an advisory leadership group that he regularly consults.
Further, the president will immediately appoint an inclusive independent task force on electoral reform (a similar clause was mentioned in the National Unity Government agreement five years ago).