Leading Afghan politicians remain divided on US-Taliban peace settlement which is expected to be signed in near future. With the talks between the United States and the Taliban progressing, the heads of National Unity Government (NUG), President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah publicly express their difference over peace process. The differences surfaced between them on Sunday, January 26, after Mr. Abdullah publicly rejected Ghani’s peace strategy.  

“We do not place pre-conditions [for peace] and [will] represent all Afghanistan’s interests in peace negotiations,” Abdullah said addressing a crowd of his supporters. He added that peace is a priority for his presidential ticket.  

On the other hand, Mr. Ghani has been insisting on a ceasefire, saying that ceasefire is a pre-condition to sustainable peace.  

Second Deputy Chief Executive and a strong supporter of Abdullah presidential ticket, Mohammad Mohaqiq also noted that no one should create barriers for reduction of violence in the peace process.

“We should not stop negotiating, even if they (the Taliban) do not reduce the violence,” Mohaqiq stressed, reiterating on peace negotiations.

These remarks come as Spokesperson for President Ghani, Sediq Sediqi, said in a press conference on Saturday, January 18, that ‘ceasefire’ is a precondition to sustainable peace in the country and the Afghan government would protect the interests of the Afghan people in peace talks. Ceasefire is part of the intra-Afghan dialogue and President Ghani during his meeting with President Trump at Bagram airbase, late November of last year, had agreed on ceasefire as precondition to peace talks, he said.

“If they [the Taliban] are interested in peace, they should accept ceasefire,” Mr. Sediqqi reiterated.

Later, speaking at the Word Economic Forum (WEF) 2020 on Wednesday, January 22, President Ghani said if the Taliban are ready to put an end to violence, Afghan society is ready to receive them. “But if they see peace as a tool and horse to overthrow the government and the society, then the society and the government would mobilize,” he warned.

The White House, however, said in a statement that Trump reiterated the need for “significant and lasting reduction in violence by the Taliban” that would facilitate meaningful negotiations on Afghanistan’s future.

Ghani is accused of violating NUG agreement

The differences between the two government leaders is not limited just to peace talks. Abdullah also accused Ghani of violating the NUG agreement, acting one-sidedly, and imposing his personal selections under the pretext of bringing reforms. “We will also take actions in line with the agreement of the national unity government to save the sustainability of the government, if he (Ghani) continue this approach,” he warned.

Mohaqiq noted that Ghani does not have the right to appoint officials in ministries, governors, and other government officials until announcement of the elections final results.

Assadullah Saadati, who is running as second vice president of Abdullah, warned that unilateral decisions by the presidential palace will disturb balance of power relationship among ethnic groups in the country.

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