President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday said that he will not transfer authority without elections, as pressure mounts for Afghans to consider a new US proposal for peace, which includes a plan for an interim government.
Ghani made the remarks during a seminar on Afghanistan’s foreign policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Ghani said that he will not accept what he described as an imposed decision on the Afghans.
“If the Taliban are ready for elections tomorrow, we are also ready to participate in the elections, but I am not ready to transfer the power to my successor without elections. 42 years of war is enough, we also have the right to live in peace like other civilized nations of the world," said Ghani.
“I do not accept imposed decisions in the absence of the Afghans,” he added.
Meanwhile, Waheed Omar, President Ghani's senior adviser for public and strategic affairs, said that the president is ready to transfer the power to his successor even before the completion of his tenure--but on condition that there is an election.
“It is not necessary that the elections are held on a specific timeline or have a five-year term, we can talk about it--the Constitution has allowed for this,” said Omar.
“One of the key purposes of the interim setup is to pave the way for consultations about the future political system,” said Faiz Zaland, a university lecturer.
The Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that Ghani’s statement is aimed to disrupt the peace process.
The Taliban have previously insisted that there should be an Islamic system established in the country. The group also said that the presence of foreign forces will not help resolve the conflict in Afghanistan.
This comes as a delegation of the Afghan government led by Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, is planning to attend the Moscow meeting on Afghanistan’s peace process that will be held on Thursday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement said it appreciates efforts made by Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and regional and international partners for peace and emphasizes the importance of continuing these efforts and cooperation.
The ministry said the delegation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is currently engaged in negotiation with the Taliban delegation in Doha and these negotiations will continue in the future.
The United States Department of State has confirmed that the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, will participate in the upcoming Moscow conference that is scheduled for the end of this week.
“Well, to answer your question on the peace process in Afghanistan as well as Special Representative Khalilzad, as of last week the Secretary said we are engaged in the region and international partners to try to accelerate progress towards a political settlement, and as a part of our ongoing efforts to encourage this important peace process, Ambassador Khalilzad does plan to attend the meeting in Moscow,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
The High Council for National Reconciliation confirmed that Abdullah Abdullah, head of the council, along with a high-ranking delegation, will travel to Moscow on Wednesday to attend the conference.
The meeting comes amid new developments in the peace efforts in Afghanistan, which include the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s letter to President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, and the US-proposed draft for Afghan peace shared with Afghan leaders.