Top challenger of Afghan president says ready to quit elections for peace



This had rising more questions about prospects for an election the Taliban have vowed to block.

The twice-delayed presidential election comes as the U.S. and the Taliban are trying to seal an agreement under which U.S. forces will withdraw in exchange for a Taliban security guarantee and a promise of power-sharing talks with Ghani’s government.

The Taliban have denounced the election as a sham and vowed to attack rallies. Ghani is insisting an election he looks set to win should go ahead.

Ghani’s main challenger, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, told a campaign rally on Wednesday he would drop out of the race if that could help secure peace.

“My team is ready to quit elections for the sake of peace,” Abdullah said, according to his office.

The Taliban want the election canceled as a condition for so-called intra-Afghan dialogue – talks after the agreement with the U.S. is struck on how power can be shared and the country organised – and a ceasefire.

Abdullah, a former foreign minister, was Ghani’s main challenger in the last election, in 2014.

That vote was marred by extensive fraud and Ghani became president after U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, brokered a deal creating the post of chief executive for Abdullah.

Ghani has rejected a suggestion put forward by Western allies to postpone the election and form an interim government, perhaps with Taliban representative, after the militants strike their deal with the U.S.

Ghani has said the people must be allowed to choose their leader and peace can only be secured under a democratic system.

But the departure of his main challenger could undermine the legitimacy of the election.

This month, another main contender, Hanif Atmar, a former interior minister, who also served as Ghani’s national security adviser, suspended his campaign, citing the level of violence in the country.

The campaign opened in July with an insurgent attack on the Kabul office of Ghani’s running mate, Amrullah Saleh. At least 20 people were killed and 50 wounded.

“With Atmar out of the race and Abdullah now giving preference to the peace deal instead of elections, it is quite clear that Ghani will have to realign his stance,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul.

Opposition party sources said many of the 17 candidates in the race were considering a boycott because they believed Ghani was using state apparatus to help him win.

With both the Taliban and U.S. negotiators reporting progress in their talks in recent weeks, and raising the prospect of an end to the 18-year war, the election has yet to capture much attention from the public.

The U.S. special representative for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been leading the talks with the Taliban since 2018, is scheduled to travel from Doha to Kabul this week for a meeting with Ghani.

Two sources with knowledge of the talks, said the U.S. will press Ghani to agree to postpone the election. (Reuter/)


Fatima Sule

Fatima Sule: NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor @ Disclaimer.

Coronavirus – Eswatini: COVID-19 update (February 23, 2021) Coronavirus – Ethiopia: COVID-19 update (February 23, 2021) Coronavirus – Nigeria: COVID-19 update (February 23, 2021) Coronavirus – Eritrea: Ministry of Health announcement (February 23, 2021) Raubenheimer satisfied with Bok Women’s progress Coronavirus – Malawi: COVID-19 update (February 23, 2021) The first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were delivered to Ghana via COVAX The Government of Pakistan and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation signed an annual financing plan amounting to US $ 1.1 billion Coronavirus – Uganda: COVID-19 update (February 23, 2021) NaturalShrimp Signs Letter of Intent to Acquire Aquaculture Assets from Hydrenesis Aquaculture, LLC Telecoming partners with Ounousa to enrich its mobile offering with entertainment content for women Zimbabwe’s First Lady congratulates Senator Dr Rasha Kelej on her nomination as African Woman of the Year 2020 Brooklyn’s Harden and Phoenix’s Paul Main Reserves for 2021 NBA All-Star Game SAP Young Professional program helps build a more collaborative digital workforce in East Africa National Refugees’ Commission donates food and non-food items to IDPs Coronavirus – Malawi: COVID-19 update (February 22, 2021) Coronavirus – Uganda: WHO supports Uganda to mitigate risks of COVID-19 transmission during election period Nigeria Petrol landing cost now N186 per liter Coronavirus – Gambia: COVID-19 update (February 22, 2021) Thousands of Ethiopians seek asylum in Sudan’s Blue Nile state Coronavirus – South Africa: COVID-19 update (February 22, 2021) Coronavirus – Nigeria: COVID-19 update (February 22, 2021) Coronavirus – Ethiopia: COVID-19 update (February 22, 2021) Coronavirus – Eswatini: COVID-19 update (February 22, 2021) Coronavirus – Eritrea: Ministry of Health announcement (February 22, 2021) Nigerian Ministry of Petroleum Resources delegation holds bilateral meeting with Equatorial Guinea Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons Cameroonian Tradex inaugurates its first gas station in Equatorial Guinea as part of its expansion plan Vaccination against the Ebola virus begins in Guinea to stem a new epidemic Coronavirus – Rwanda: COVID-19 update (February 22, 2021) Angolan ANPG takes action to make 2020 application cycle more transparent BonelliErede: two new advisers to boost the firm’s presence in Africa and the Middle East SunMirror AG Intensifies Tin Exploration Efforts at Moolyella Project Optyma Control Panel Provides Energy-Efficient Protection of Perishables at Facebook Headquarters in Dubai (by Lynne McCarthy) ATPC, BUSA organize conference on women’s empowerment in AfCFTA era Support for Sudan discussed during historic visit Nestlé recognized as one of the best employers in Central and West Africa Information from Canon African Frontiers of Innovation series describes vital need for digital literacy skills Women’s rugby receives a strategic boost Opera launches Hype; its new dedicated chat service integrated into the popular Opera Mini browser now available in Kenya Signature of a 25 million USD financing line between the Islamic Society for the Development of the Private Sector and the JSCB “Uzbek Bank of Industry and Construction” Call to African innovators: finding solutions for a sustainable way of life and economic development in Africa Research by STL Partners and Vertiv reveals why telecom operators should prioritize efficiency and sustainability in 5G networks Coronavirus – Africa: MSF welcomes the motion of the African Union supporting the proposed exemption to intellectual property (IP) at the WTO Essential food supplies and distributions reach displaced people in Axum, Tigray COVID-19: Council adopts conclusions on human rights-based recovery Attack on a World Food Program field mission in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya, Ján Kubiš, continues engagement with Libyan interlocutors Why FIFA wants to develop football in Africa Coronavirus – Uganda: COVID-19 update (February 21, 2021) Coronavirus – Malawi: COVID-19 update (February 21, 2021)