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Afghan chief executive slams president's 'wishlist' peace plan

AFP  |  Kabul 

Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah dismissed Tuesday a new peace proposal by his election rival President Ashraf Ghani as an unrealistic "wishlist", and again questioned the validity of thousands of votes from recent polls.

US President Donald Trump in September ended year-long talks with the Taliban amid ongoing insurgent violence, leaving Afghans wondering what comes next in the gruelling conflict.

Ghani's team last month released a seven-point proposal meant to build on those talks and bring an end to Afghanistan's 18-year-old war with the Taliban.

While some observers have praised aspects of the detailed proposal for its scope, they question whether certain elements -- including a call for a month-long Taliban ceasefire before talks resume -- are feasible.

"To be honest, nobody has taken that so-called seven-point plan as a plan... it's rather a wishlist," Abdullah said in an interview with AFP.

"Nobody is taking it seriously -- neither the people of Afghanistan, nor anybody." The US-Taliban negotiations centred on the Pentagon pulling troops in return for Taliban security guarantees, but drew scorn from Ghani's government, which was systematically cut out because the insurgents do not recognise the administration.

Abdullah said it is imperative for any future talks to include negotiators from the Afghan government, be it led by him or by Ghani.

Any negotiating team "has to be inclusive. Government has to be a part of that", Abdullah, 59, said in his sprawling official compound next to the presidential palace in the centre of Kabul. Abdullah is locked in a bitter election race with his next-door neighbour Ghani.

The two rivals squared off in a first-round vote on September 28 and election officials have repeatedly delayed announcing initial results, citing various technical problems.

In 2014, Ghani and Abdullah fought a close and angry race that sparked widespread allegations of fraud and saw the US step in to broker an awkward power-sharing agreement between the rivals under a unity government.

Abdullah's position, not mentioned in the constitution, was created to end ongoing disputes that threatened political collapse.

There are signs this year's election risks a repeat of 2014, with both Ghani's and Abdullah's camps alleging fraud.

But Abdullah, who has previously said he believes he secured the most votes, said he would "absolutely" respect the result of recent polls -- if the process is fair and transparent.

On Monday, his team said problems remained with about 300,000 of the 1.8 million votes that the Independent Election Commission has said are valid.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, November 05 2019. 21:50 IST
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