The United States has rejected the formation of an Afghan government led by opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah parallel to that of President Ashraf Ghani.
Both Ghani and Abdullah held parallel swearing-in ceremonies in Kabul on Monday throwing the country into a major political crisis amid the ongoing peace process, Efe news reported.
“We strongly oppose any action to establish a parallel government, and any use of force to resolve political differences,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad was present at Ghani”s oath-taking ceremony, while Abdullah”s swearing-in took place in the presence of local leaders. This political crisis has been brewing since September, when the holding of the elections was marked by low participation amid threats from the Taliban and subsequent allegations of massive fraud by Ghani”s rivals.
Despite rejecting the parallel swearings-in, Pompeo appreciated “Dr. Abdullah”s statement March 9 underscoring similar commitments to peace and inclusivity” in line with Ghani”s statement that “discussions and negotiations will continue for the next two weeks to come to an agreement on an inclusive government which unifies the country and prioritizes peace.”
The US official also praised Ghani”s announcement that he will “issue a decree March 10 on Taliban prisoner release and the formation of a national team for intra-Afghan negotiations” with the insurgents with whom the US has already reached an agreement on the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.
Although Ghani has so far opposed the agreement between the Taliban and Washington for the release of 5,000 insurgents, he seemed willing to yield in exchange for a reduction in violence. In a speech after his ceremony, Ghani said a mechanism for talks with the Taliban and the release of thousands of insurgents from Afghan jails “as required under the deal ” had been finalized and a presidential order in this regard would be issued on Tuesday.
“(The) decree… will include further details of this process. Fortunately, we have reached a framework,” said Ghani, with his wife, First Lady Rula Ghani, accompanying him to the ceremony. He added that there would be a “significant reduction in violence” for people to see in return for the release of Taliban prisoners “linked to the peace and security of the Afghans.”