Foreign

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

Published

on

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/)

FAT/SN

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[at]nnn.ng. Disclaimer.

Latest News

Frightened Residents brace as Cyclone Eloise approaches Mozambique Coronavirus: COVAX announces new agreement, plans for first deliveries Coronavirus – Seychelles: India gifts Seychelles with COVISHIELD vaccines Coronavirus – Namibia: COVID-19 Update 22 January 2021 Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio inspects Agricultural Machinery at the Agriculture Central Stores in Freetown Coronavirus – Uganda: COVID-19 update (22 January 2021) Africa’s first ever Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Tour team, Team Qhubeka ASSOS, unveils iconic 2021 race jersey Coronavirus: African Union Member States reporting COVID-19 cases as of 22 January 2021, 9 am EAT Online Trading: What to look for in a Broker Participation, education, digital access and climate change are key concerns for children and young people in Africa and Europe, U-Report poll finds Grim milestone as Sahel violence displaces 2 million inside their countries 6th Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week opens Virtually to Discuss Infrastructure Development in the New Decade of PIDA Programme Over 100,000 displaced by resurgence of violence in Sudan’s Darfur region Coronavirus: The United States provides 20 ventilators to Zimbabwe to respond to COVID-19 Coronavirus: Bank of Namibia donates Medical Equipment to the Ministry of Health and Social Services Coronavirus – Namibia: COVID-19 Update 21 January 2021 Coronavirus – Eswatini: COVID-19 update (21 January 2021) Coronavirus – Sierra Leone: COVID-19 update (21 January 2021) Coronavirus – Kenya: COVID-19 update (21 January 2021) Coronavirus in Africa could reverse 30 years of Wildlife conservation gains, harming interconnected communities and livelihoods (By Edwin Tambara) Coronavirus – Zambia: COVID-19 update (21 January 2021) Coronavirus – Nigeria: COVID-19 update (21 January 2021) Coronavirus – Eritrea: Announcement from the Ministry of Health (21 January 2021) Coronavirus – Malawi: COVID-19 update (21 January 2021) Coronavirus – Rwanda: COVID-19 update (21 January 2021) How Somalia, one of the world’s most fragile states, is working for a more resilient, low-carbon future Coronavirus – South Africa: COVID-19 update (21 January 2021) Coronavirus – Ethiopia: COVID-19 update (21 January 2021) African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina’s Speech at the Federal Inland Revenue Service Tax Dialogue Coronavirus – Uganda: COVID-19 update (20 January 2021) Coronavirus – Zambia: COVID-19 update (20 January 2021) Coronavirus – Kenya: COVID-19 update (20 January 2021) OUT NOW! 2ND edition of “Billions at play” outlining the road to recovery for the African Oil and Gas Sector, post Covid-19 Coronavirus – Ethiopia: COVID-19 update (20 January 2021) Coronavirus – Nigeria: COVID-19 update (20 January 2021) Coronavirus – South Africa: COVID-19 update (20 January 2021) Coronavirus – Rwanda: COVID-19 update (20 January 2021) Save the Children welcomes decline in violations against children in South Sudan Coronavirus – Eswatini: COVID-19 update (20 January 2021) Coronavirus – Gambia: COVID-19 update (20 January 2021) Japanese lawmaker receives suspended prison sentence for vote-buying FAO launches project to enhance food security in Somalia Tedros welcomes United States announcement to maintain membership in WHO Tedros welcomes United States announcement to maintain membership in WHO International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation approves US$10 million Line of Trade Finance Facility for Uzbekistan based Private Joint Stock Commercial Bank ‘Orient Finans’ Africa needs timely access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines Coronavirus – Malawi: COVID-19 update (20 January 2021) Iran condemns deadly bombing attacks in Baghdad Update: 32 killed, 110 wounded in twin suicide bombings in Baghdad Sri Lanka fully reopens borders to tourists, international arrivals