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Editorial: Muscle flexing from NUG leaders

In the wake of US President Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement to halt peace talks with the Taliban, the preparations for the upcoming September 28 presidential election – which were widely expected to be delayed under any US-Taliban deal – went on into full thrust. In addition to that, the presidential spokesman on Saturday said the priority for his government is to hold national election later this month – rather than reach a peace deal with the insurgents. The government mouthpiece declared that a legitimate peace deal with Afghanistan’s Taliban can only come after the polls. Among all these, the internal rifts within the National Unity Government (NUG) leadership since their coming into power have blackened the reputation of the two leaders at the helm – President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah. The recent show of political power was the Friday’s report whereby Abdullah suspended President Ghani’s decree of a probe into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

Abdullah has halted Ghani’s presidential decree reportedly until a new government is elected, reasoning that it was not a reform measure as much as an electoral campaign maneuver. The matter of investigation into the MoFA came in August when President Ghani issued a decree to probe appointments made at the ministry, following an Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring Committee (MEC)’s report regarding corruption. The report revealed that staff at MoFA are being employed and sent to foreign diplomatic missions based on personal relationships and bribe, further adding that 44 percent of the applicants were employed without an entrance exam between 2011 and 2017. However, MoFA rejected the report, saying “it lacks the accepted investigative and research standards and is prepared with bias and subjectivity.” This is while every action the President has taken recently, including decreeing appointments and other orders, are dubbed as part of electioneering by the opposition, as well as some circles within the government. They say measures such as probe into MoFA are more campaign-based than reforms.

Being a hurdle to one another’s activities is not just a one-way process but it has been seen from President Ghani as well. By their actions, they are translating the 50-50 power-sharing deal into action. At this stand, such division and squabbles between the leadership under the name of unity government don’t reflect well on their reputation as future leaders. As both President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah are running for president post in the upcoming election, they are merely blackening their image before the Afghan nation. Meanwhile, such differences between the President and CEO disrupt governmental activities during this time of election campaign. They should act exemplary in order to set an example for the rest and not flex their muscles at this juncture when it’s nearly an end to their term.

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