Ashraf Ghani speaks during a ceremony at the Afghan Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. File/Reuters
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday, in a bid to push forward peace talks with the Taliban, that his government was ready to discuss holding fresh elections, insisting that any new government should emerge through the democratic process.
“Transfer of power through elections is a non-negotiable principle for us,” Ghani told lawmakers at the opening of parliament session in Kabul.
“We stand ready to discuss holding free, fair and inclusive elections under the auspices of international community. We can also talk about the date of the elections and reach a conclusion.
President Ghani met US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in Kabul during the past week to discuss ways to inject momentum in the stalled peace negotiations with Taliban representatives being held in Qatar. After his talks in Kabul, Khalilzad went to Qatar.
US President Joe Biden's administration has begun a review of its strategy for Aghanistan, including an agreement reached with the Taliban in early 2020 that paved the way for talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government.
Afghan officials and western diplomats said that during his visit to Kabul Khalilzad had floated the idea of establishing an interim government after bringing Afghan leaders and Taliban leaders together for a multilateral conference outside the country.
But Ghani said the only way to form a government should be through an election.
“I advise those who go to this or that gate to gain power is that political power in Afghanistan has a gate, and the key is the vote of the Afghan people,” he said.
“Any institution can write a fantasy on a piece of paper and suggest a solution for Afghanistan. These papers have been written in the past and will be written in the future. Our guarantee is our constitution.”
Elected two years ago, Ghani is not yet midway through his five-year term.
Violence and targeted killings have surged since the Afghan government began US-backed negotiations with the Taliban last September, and western security officials say the insurgents, already holding large swathes of rural areas, have begun to gain ground around towns and cities.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi have discussed a planned meeting in Beijing that would include Afghan figures and Taliban representatives.
Haibatullah Akhundzada urged Washington "not to waste" the opportunity offered by the deal to end America's longest war in a message released ahead of next week's Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The Taliban delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, began talks just after 0930 GMT with representatives of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the European Union and Norway.
The government has decided to free top militant commander Anas Haqqani and two other Taliban commanders in a prisoner swap, a deal that could pave the way for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Backed by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce, the event played host to 500 specialised companies, unveiling the latest and most sought-after designs in watches, jewellery, and gold ornaments from around the world.
The tragedy struck the town of Qaraqosh, in a wedding hall with a capacity of “no more than 400 people,” Interior Minister Amir Al Shammari told a press conference. That night, it held in excess of 900 people, he said.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid wished the newly appointed judges success in their new roles and highlighted the importance of constantly enhancing the DIFC’s judicial framework.
The light aircraft, which reportedly belonged to RioZim, crashed in the Zvamahande area of Mashava, killing all six onboard — four foreigners and two Zimbabweans, police said. The mid-air crash is suspected to have been caused by a mechanical fault.