Presidential candidate and former National Security Advisor Mohammad Haneef Atmar on Monday said the term of the National Unity Government – led by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah – will not have legitimacy after May 22 and that Afghans are reaching to a consensus about this.
The National Unity Government’s (NUG) was established based on an agreement between Ghani and Abdullah in September 2014 after controversial elections. The agreement on the NUG was brokered by former US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Our nation is gradually coming to a consensus that the continuation of the incumbent government has no legitimacy after May 22. We do not want any beyond the Constitution,” Atmar reiterated.
Addressing a ceremony on former Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim’s death anniversary in Balkh, Atmar claimed that government is hindering the peace talks with the Taliban.
“We are not seeking to create a power vacuum but for sure we want sincere efforts for peace and elections, not a hindrance to the processes. Therefore, establishing an interim government based on the Constitution will be our top priority so that we assure our nation that peace and elections are coming,” Atmar added.
Atmar, meanwhile, raised the issue of high casualties among Afghan National Defense and Security Force members and said government has failed to ensure people’s safety.
“Almost 50,000 military and civilians have been martyred in the past five years. It means that at least 10,000 people lost their lives every year,” Atmar said. “At least 98,000 people, including civilians and security personnel were wounded during the same period. This ‘mad situation’ and the imposed war must end.”
Atta Mohammad Noor, the CEO of Jamiat-e-Islami party and former governor of Balkh, also called the National Unity Government “illegitimate” after May 22 and said they will stand against government after its term is completed.
“Mr. President (Ashraf Ghani) has always said that he will not work even for one day after May 22… Now, we are telling him that we will not let you be President after May 22,” Noor reiterated. “In order to prevent a power vacuum, presidential candidates, political leaders, elders, and national figures should sit and draft a reasonable plan before the time reaches; otherwise, you should not expect a ‘legitimate’ government after that date.”
Another speaker of the event, Mohammad Yunus Qanooni, former Vice President and a running mate to Atmar, said Afghanistan’s achievements of the past 18 years should not be compromised in the peace talks.
“We have to draw our red lines in peace,” Qanooni said. “First, we will not compromise on the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Second, we will not compromise on basic rights of Afghan citizens and at the same time the achievements of the past 18 years are the result of the sacrifices of millions of people in Afghanistan and they will not be compromised,” said Qanooni.
This comes as the presidential elections were delayed for the second time and the Independent Election Commission announced September 28 as the new date for the polls.