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Abdullah sticks to his guns, rejecting rapprochement pleas

Abdullah has again drawn a firm line against president Ghani’s repeated offer to spearhead the supreme peace council, shrugging at another attempt to end heightened political tension

AT News

KABUL: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has turned down his appointment as head of the Supreme Peace Council, according to his aide, rejecting a repeated offer by president Ghani in an attempt to persuade his dissenting rival to stop a protracted political hostility.

President Ghani who met with Afghan senators on Friday night said “the country’s affairs won’t be possible with existence of a two-headed government” and that the political stratum should unit. Seeking an end to the standoff, Ghani offered the leadership of high people council to Abdullah.

The country’s warring leaders – President Ashraf Ghani and his estranged ally Abdullah – appeared inching closer to a rapprochement last week as presidential aide Waheed Omer said a positive progress was made in the ongoing talks between the two teams.

From Abdullah’s standpoint, he seems not be budging on his position. One of his aides, Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, has said, “Ashraf Ghani is not in a position to make such an offer”.

But strong indications have emerged after a batch of high-profile politicians met with him. Attempting to end Ghani-Abdullah standoff, former president Hamid Karzai, former mujahideen leader Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, and former VPs Yunus Qanooni and Karim Khalili met with Abdullah on Saturday. Sayyaf has said things are going in the “right direction”.

As Kabul and the Taliban are edging towards peace negotiations, Afghan leaders who have been at odds over power have ratcheted up effort to reconcile and broker a reconciliation and power-sharing deal to end a bickering that is risking falling into nascent peace talks.

Both the teams of Ghani and Abdullah have been hardly trying to reach a deal and end their disagreements and the ensuing political tensions. Both the leaders held their separate presidential inaugurations on February end with Abdullah introducing his parallel ‘inclusive’ government.

This is as politicians continued to mediate between the feuding leaders to bring a stop to the lingering political tensions.

The United States has been quite unimpressed by Afghan leaders’ political behaviour. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo touted the political disagreements between Ghani and Abdullah as “irresponsible” and a “direct threat” to the U.S. national interests, urging them to stop the tensions and form an inclusive government. The U.S. is also cutting a $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan over the political crisis.

Ghani and Abdullah had locked horns on their standpoint vis-à-vis the outcome of the 2019 presidential vote which gave lead to Ghani and drew Abdullah’s ire and opposition. He later rejected the results and proclaimed himself the president. He even held his inauguration as the president exactly when Ghani was being sworn in in the presidential palace.

Ever since former president Hamid Karzai and Jihadi leader Abdulrab Rasoul Sayyaf have met with the squabbling leaders to convince them to stop being intransigent, but all attempts have foundered to end the election turmoil which has given birth to two presidents. This political acrimony is ruining the prospects of peace talks with the Taliban.

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