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Release of Taliban prisoners is part of presidential campaign: Abdullah hints

AT News Report

KABUL: Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah implicitly called President Ashraf Ghani’s decision over the release of Taliban prisoners as a “campaign” for September presidential race.

Abdullah emphasized on Monday that government sources should not be used for presidential campaign.

The president ordered the release of nearly 900 Taliban inmates as a goodwill gesture during the last week’s Eid festivity. 500 of the prisoners have been reportedly freed.

“The release of Taliban prisoners was part of confidential building to make peace with the Taliban,” Abdullah said. “If the release of Taliban prisoners turns into presidential campaign, the efforts lose their effectiveness.”

Abdullah added that serving public interest is a duty of the government and peace is much-demanded interest of the people to be preserved as soon as possible.

“As approach presidential race in September, peace does not depend on one person, and one person cannot be the hero of peace.” Abdullah noted.

Abdullah, who also runs for September presidential contest, called recent appointment of high ranking government officials politically motivated. He urged the government to address concerns of presidential candidates for the race.

Earlier, presidential candidates had accused President Ghani of misusing government sources for the purpose of personal campaign. They claimed President Ghani traveled to different provinces of the country for inauguration of half-completed projects to promote himself.

Yousuf Rashid, head of The Fair and Free Election Foundation of Afghanistan, expressed concern over the repetition of 2014 scandalous presidential race.

“In 2014, political opposition of the government revealed of protectoral between the Taliban and candidates of presidential race over securing spot for holding election under the control of the Taliban,” Mr. Rashid said. “We are deeply concerned with the repetition of 2014 race and unfortunately there is no willing to avoid the bad experience.”

Nazir Ahmadzai, a close aide to President Ashraf Ghani, called the decision of President Ashraf Ghani to release Taliban prisoners as steps to build confidence between the Taliban and the government.

“We appreciate any efforts to get us closer to peace,” Mr. Ahmadzai said. “There was no confidence between the two sides and the President’s decision was a move to build confidence with the Taliban.”

In late 2018, The United State entered direct talks with the Taliban to end the war in the country. Zalmay khalilzad, U.S. representative on Afghan reconciliation, held six rounds of talks with the armed group, but the Taliban have refused to meet the delegation of the government.

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