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No need for an interim govt: Sarwar Danish

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(Last Updated On: January 13, 2021)

Second Vice President Sarwar Danish said on Wednesday that Afghanistan does not need an interim government in order to reach a peace agreement with the Taliban.

Speaking at an event in Kabul, Danish said that it does not make sense to live under the Republic’s flat and to seek an interim government.

“Those who say that we are pro-republic and against the emirate, meanwhile seek an interim government – they either don’t know the terms of policies or are unfamiliar with historic events… or they have strong relations with foreigners against Afghanistan,” he said.

Danish also warned that a peace deal without preserving democratic principles will intensify the war in Afghanistan.

“If voting processes, republic norms and general citizenship rights are not considered in the peace talks, lasting peace will not be reached,” Danish said.

Meanwhile, Inayatullah Babar Farahmand, deputy head of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) said that the Afghan constitution needs to be amended and the current republic system is not in the interests of the people.

“Such a republic system is not in the interest of people and political participation is on paper,” said Farahmand.

On the other hand, Fazl Ahmad Manawi, minister of justice, said that no one can impose their will by using force.

This comes after a number of Afghan politicians said last week that the Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, carried a message to meetings recently about the establishment of an interim government.

Sources close to President Ashraf Ghani said at the time that he refused to meet with Khalilzad because of this. On Saturday Ghani addressed a gathering and stated he would only hand over power to an elected successor.

However, on Wednesday, US Chargé d’Affaires in Kabul Ross Wilson rejected the claims of the US wanting an interim government.

“We have not advocated, and the United States is not advocating, an interim government,” Wilson said in a series of tweets.

He said the United States is committed to bringing about an end to conflict in Afghanistan through a political settlement that ensures the country remains sovereign, unified and democratic, is at peace with itself and its neighbors and can preserve gains made over the last 19 years.

He stated that the first phase of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations in Doha constituted an important step forward, “but much remains to be done”.

“The United States remains firm in its call for an immediate reduction of violence and ceasefire,” he said.

Wilson also stated that he had spoken with the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and that he has “and will continue to talk with Afghans about the need to accelerate the talks in Doha and solicited from those we have met their ideas, as well as their concerns.”

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Ghani fires finance minister, appoints caretaker to the position

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday dismissed finance minister Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal from his post and approved a new acting minister, said the Administrative Office of the President (AOP) in a statement.

The AOP cited a number of reasons for this move including the delay in the collection of taxes, weak management, lack of commitment to good governance, not obeying Article 77 of the Constitution, violating Presidential decrees and directions, the lack of cooperation in an assessment of illegal appointments at the ministry and for trying to prevent the assessments, the statement read.

The AOP added that Ghani approved Mohammad Khalid Payenda as acting finance minister.

Arghandiwal was a close ally of Ghani during his election campaigns and was appointed as acting minister of finance in March last year. 

He received a vote of confidence from the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) in November last year.

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Biden to keep Khalilzad as peace envoy for now

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Former president Donald Trump’s peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will retain his position, for now, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN. 

This move is not typical as traditionally an incoming administration replaces all politically appointed officials – especially those dealing with foreign policy issues. 

Khalilzad, a diplomatic veteran, has worked on the peace process for more than two years and has been the key official from Washington to meet with both the Afghan government and the Taliban as well as all other stakeholders and regional leaders. 

No further details were released and according to CNN the State Department did not comment when asked about Khalilzad staying on board. 

However, in a statement issued late Friday, the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib that the United States intends to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement.”

He also said Washington would assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.

Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

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Washington to review US-Taliban deal, Sullivan tells Mohib 

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib on Friday evening and said Washington intends to review the US-Taliban deal signed in February last year and to assess whether the Taliban is adhering to its commitments. 

In a statement issued by the White House following the discussion between the two NSAs, Sullivan said the US will support the peace process with “a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire”. 

Sullivan also made clear “the United States’ intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.”

According to the statement, Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

In addition, Sullivan and Mohib discussed the US’s support for protecting the gains made by Afghan women, girls, and minority groups as part of the peace process. 

Sullivan also “committed to consulting closely with the Afghan government, NATO allies, and regional partners regarding a collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, and secure future for Afghanistan,” the statement read.

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