Categories: International News

To reach a peace deal, Taliban say Afghan President must go Latest

The Taliban on Friday said they don’t want to monopolise power, but insisted there won’t be peace in Afghanistan until there is a new negotiated government in Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani is removed.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, also a member of the group’s negotiating team, laid out the insurgents’ stance on what should come next in a country on the precipice.

The Taliban have captured territory in recent weeks, seized border crossings and are threatening a number of provincial capitals, as U.S. and NATO soldiers leave Afghanistan. This week, the top U.S. military officer, General Mark Milley, said that the Taliban have “strategic momentum,” and he did not rule out a complete Taliban takeover. But he said it is not inevitable. “I don’t think the end game is yet written,” he said.

Afghans who can afford it are applying by the thousands for visas to leave Afghanistan, fearing a violent descent into chaos. The U.S.-NATO withdrawal is more than 95% complete.

Shaheen said the Taliban will lay down their weapons when a negotiated government acceptable to all sides in the conflict is installed in Kabul and Mr. Ghani’s government is gone.

“I want to make it clear that we do not believe in the monopoly of power because any governments who (sought) to monopolise power in Afghanistan in the past, were not successful governments,” said Shaheen, apparently including the Taliban’s own five-year rule in that assessment.

“So we do not want to repeat that same formula.”

But he was also uncompromising on the continued rule of Mr. Ghani, calling him a war monger and accusing him of using his Tuesday speech on the Islamic holy day of Id-al-Adha to promise an offensive against the Taliban. Shaheen dismissed Mr. Ghani’s right to govern, resurrecting allegations of widespread fraud that surrounded Mr. Ghani’s 2019 election win.

After that vote, both Mr. Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah declared themselves President. After a compromise deal, Mr. Abdullah is now No. 2 in the government and heads the reconciliation council.

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