Former insurgent group to take part in Afghan elections


The Hezb-e-Islami (Islamic Party) of Afghanistan, a former insurgent group, on Thursday announced it will take part in the country's parliamentary and presidential elections, nine months after signing a peace treaty with the government.
"Our decision is to participate in these elections," Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, nicknamed the "Butcher of Kabul" and who returned to the country around a month ago, told a press conference, reports Efe news.
Hekmatyar, who was the Prime Minister of Afghanistan in the 1990s, said that for the presidential elections in 2019 it would be better for them to support a proper candidate instead of their own "even if we are 100 percent sure" of our nominee's victory.
In this regard, he said the presidential candidate they will support should be acceptable not only to Afghans but to the countries in the region and the world as well.
"We think if we win through elections, there are still such forces in the region and world who cannot tolerate us and we don't want for our power the blood of our nation to be spilled," he said.
Hekmatyar, one of the warlords who fought the Soviet forces between 1979 and 1989, headed the government on several occasions in the 1990s. During the civil war, he bombarded Kabul, leaving behind an official death toll of 50,000 and the Afghan capital in ruins.

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He expressed deep concern over the high expenditure incurred in elections, with presidential, parliamentary and local elections being held separately.
Hekmatyar said no group had the authority to change the government by force and his party would not allow anyone to weaken or overthrow the government led by Ashraf Ghani.
The legislative elections should have been held nearly two years ago, but have been repeatedly postponed because of violence, the high cost of elections and delayed reforms in the Election Commission.

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First Published: Jun 8 2017 | 4:18 PM IST

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