KABUL: The ‘tug of war’ between the feuding leaders Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah to take over control of the government has intensified after the president elect dismantled the Office of Chief Executive (OCE) and Abdullah faulting the credibility and legitimacy of his government on Wednesday.
As political polarization is spiraling out of control, presidential spokesman Seddiq Seddiqi said the president had issued a decree ending the chief executive office. “After the president’s inauguration, the office of chief executive is no more,” he said.
Sediqqi said that Ghani had issued another decree for the release of Taliban prisoners with hopes to begin peace talks with the Taliban.
Abdullah has, however, shrugged the importance of the president’s decree. In a statement on Wednesday, he said the government of national unity ended after his swearing-in ceremony and that his ‘inclusive government’s chief executive’ will be officially introduced soon.
He argued that Ghani is no longer president “which would render his decrees and orders invalid. He also ordered OCE employees to carry on their job.
The chief executive office was established in 2014 in a power-sharing agreement negotiated to solve an election crisis involving Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. Ghani became president, and Abdullah became chief executive.
Ghani was named the winner by the Independent Election Commission, but Abdullah claimed victory in the recent presidential election, and both men held inauguration ceremonies on Monday.
But the international community has publicly acknowledged Ghani’s inauguration, and called for unity.
On Tuesday, Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for Taliban’s Qatar office in a tweet said: “We handed over to the US team a detailed list of 5000 prisoners that none can tamper with. Our very condition is that the detainees are acceptable if verified by our team, whether they are handed over to us in an open rural area or in the premises of prisons.”
But Sediqqi said: “The Taliban said the prisoners should be free without conditions, which is not possible,” adding that “as the president’s decree states, the prisoner release is conditional on a reduction in violence, intra-Afghan talks and ceasefire.”
“For the release of their (Taliban) prisoners, we want guarantees that they will not return to war,” Sediqqi said, adding that “without a guarantee it would be hard to release the prisoners.”
He stated that no Taliban prisoners has been released yet, but according to the president’s decree, the prisoners will be released starting March 14. He also urged the Taliban to reduce the violence and “killing of Afghans”. “If this process fails, the Taliban will be responsible, not the Afghan government. We have always shown our willingness for the peace process,” said Sediqqi.