20 May 2019

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Monday May 6, 2019

Kabul (BNA) The MoF has reported on its preparation to fund budget for the three upcoming elections. The officials concerned of that ministry said that they would held a meeting with IEC and would provide about Afs two billion for starting of operational work of the commission.
Spokesman of MoF Shamroz Khan Masjedi said, prior to this, according to plan, the IEC had requested budget from the MoF. According to this plan, today Saturday, 4th of April a part of election budget of about two billion Afghani will be provided by the government for beginning of voter registration.
According to Masjedi, the IEC has requested MoF $198m budget for presidential and provincial councils as well as Ghazni elections. The government has decided to give two billion Afghani in first section of election budget to IEC while the large part of election budget will be funded by the world community.
Masjedi added that it is not clear yet that whether the world community would help for holding of presidential, provincial councils and Ghazni elections or not. But the Afghan government expects the world community to fund part of the three upcoming elections.
According to Masjedi, if the world community would not be ready to fund election budget, the government would be ready to fund the rest of the budget through domestic channels.
The MoF has announced that it would ensure budget for the three elections ahead. Elections of district councils were also expected to be held together with three elections, but the IEC officials said that only the above three elections were inserted in their operational plan.
Deputy spokesman of IEC Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi said that $207m have been estimated for the three elections ahead even if the presidential elections goes to run off, the estimated budget would be sufficient.
The $207m includes ECC budget too. In the first step budget for voters registration would be funded, that would be started on May 16th throughout the country simultaneously. Biometrics will be used during registration process for recording of voters’ data.
The IEC has not inserted districts councils elections in its operational plan. Elections observers claim that IEC is not ready even for holding of the three abovementioned elections. FEFA CE Yusuf Rashid said that one of the reasons behind not inserting districts councils in IEC operational plan is volatility of a number of districts.
According to Yusuf Rashid non-partnership of women as candidates is also a controversial issue in some of these districts. But he adds that if IEC manages to hold the above three elections, it would be an achievement, but as it is seen the IEC lacks essential preparation for the three elections and payment of election budget by the Afghan government gives this process more reputation.
Rashid believes that the world community has not submitted any document that explains which country would contribute how much money.
The role of international organization is very outstanding in ensuring of Afghanistan election budget as they had contributed 90pc of 2018 parliamentary elections, that according to IEC data, cost $130m.
During her visit to Kabul on March 26th, the EU foreign policy chief Federal Mogrinie had emphasized on continuation of EU financial assistance particularly for election and said that EUC would try the Afghan election to be held transparently and reliably.
The three above elections are expected to be held simultaneously on Sep 28th.2019.
 

Monday May 6, 2019

Kabul (BNA) Peace talks between the Taliban and a U.S. peace envoy over a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops in Afghanistan are narrowing a gap between the two sides, a spokesman for the insurgent group said Saturday.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said both sides have offered proposals for drawing down the presence of U.S. and NATO forces, a major step toward ending a nearly two-decades-long conflict. The two sides continue to meet in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban has a political office.
“There are proposals to lower the gap between the two sides, but (it) still needs negotiation to reach a final agreement,” Shaheen said in an English-language statement.
The U.S. was seeking 18 months to withdraw its 14,000 troops while the Taliban wanted it done in six months. Talks between the two sides began last year with the appointment of Washington’s peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad.
American officials want a guarantee that the Taliban won’t harbor terrorists and that it will help in the fight against an Islamic State affiliate that has taken root in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban has waged battles with the group in the past.
Khalilzad has laid out four “inter-connected issues: troop withdrawal, counter-terrorism assurances, intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations and reduction in violence leading to a comprehensive cease-fire.”
Some Taliban officials said the group has concerns about a cease-fire, namely that some commanders are unlikely to accept a truce while foreign troops remain in the country.
Khalilzad has urged both sides to find a middle ground.
Foxnation
 

Monday May 6, 2019

Kabul (BNA) The US special envoy tasked with forging a peace deal with the Taliban said Saturday that America stands ready for "all sides" to lay down arms in the 17-year conflict.
Peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is leading the latest round of talks with the Taliban in Doha, where the two foes are pursuing a deal that would see the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in return for Taliban security guarantees.
"All sides laying down arms is the outcome of any peace process," Khalilzad tweeted.
"All sides agreeing to reduce violence is a necessary step toward achieving that outcome and the morally responsible choice to make. We stand ready."
Khalilzad's comments come a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was prepared to call an "immediate" and "permanent" ceasefire -- but the Taliban rebuffed the offer.
Ghani had also offered to release 175 prisoners as a goodwill gesture. His talk of a ceasefire comes as momentum builds in various Afghan peace talks.
Thousands of tribal elders, women and representatives met last week at a massive "loya jirga" peace summit in Kabul, which ended with a demand for a ceasefire between government and Taliban forces.
- 'Failed strategies' -
The talks between the Taliban and the US, who have met about a half dozen times in recent months, are taking place separately in the Qatari capital Doha.
Neither side has said much about progress in their latest talks, which were ongoing Saturday, but Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Friday tweeted that America should "forget about the idea of us putting down our arms".
The Doha talks focus on an eventual foreign troop withdrawal in exchange for the Taliban guaranteeing Afghanistan will never again be used as a safe haven for terror groups.
Khalilzad has repeatedly stressed that nothing would be finalised until two other key issues -- a ceasefire and dialogue between Afghan society and the Taliban -- have been addressed.
Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban's political spokesman in Doha, told AFP that "efforts are underway" to flesh out differences on the security and troop withdrawal issues.
But in what appears to be something of an impasse with the Americans, Shaheen said the other key points of a comprehensive ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue could not be addressed until those first two points were agreed.
Last year, however, the Taliban did announce a three-day ceasefire at the end of Ramadan after Ghani declared a unilateral truce for eight days earlier in the month.
It was the first formal nationwide ceasefire since the US-led invasion of 2001 and saw unprecedented scenes of reconciliation and jubilation across the country.
The insurgents have steadfastly refused to talk to Ghani, who they view as a US puppet, and talks thus far have cut out his government.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan's war rages on, with thousands of civilians and fighters being killed each year.
US forces continue to train Afghan partners on the ground and strike the Taliban from the air, in a bid to push the war to a political settlement.
Dailymail
 

Monday May 6, 2019

Kabul (BNA) Turkey has a fundamental role in Afghanistan’s peacemaking and stability process, an Afghan official said Saturday.
“Turkey, which has historic and friendly relations with Afghanistan, plays fundamental role in providing peacemaking and stability in the country,” Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
Abdullah stressed Turkey’s effort to improve relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan and said: Turkey clearly has economic and political power as it acts as a bridge between Asia and Europe.
“In this context, Turkey can be effective to provide more coordination at regional level.”
Abdullah said the main reason of migration waves from Afghanistan is the ongoing war, and added: ''We have created cooperation mechanisms involving immigrants with the United Nations, Turkey and neighboring countries.”
Afghanistan and Taliban
Abdullah said Afghan people support the peacemaking process between Taliban and the Afghan government with the involvement of the U.S, but they don’t want a Taliban government again.
“Afraid of returning to Taliban-dominated periods, the people of Afghanistan want to preserve their gains and to live in peace even though they have different opinions and ideas,” Abdullah said.
He said the Taliban must terminate its relations with terrorist groups and added: “The Taliban's support to al-Qaeda and the organization’s terrorist attacks carried out outside the country, such as the September 11 attacks, led to the political and military interventions of the international community.”
In peacemaking process, the U.S. wants to be sure that Taliban doesn’t have a relationship with any terrorist organization.”
Abdullah said the influence of other countries, such as Qatar, on the Taliban cannot be underestimated, and added: “No country alone cannot be guarantor of the peacemaking process in Afghanistan.
“If peace is achieved in Afghanistan, it will contribute to the solution of regional crises.”
Earlier in April, the U.S. expressed disappointment over postponement of the landmark peace conference between the Taliban and an Afghan peace delegation in Qatar.
Over 200 Afghan politicians and civil society representatives were set to meet the Taliban in the Qatari capital Doha for what was set to be a momentous development endorsed by Kabul and Washington.
However, Taliban opposed and mocked the large size of the Afghan peace delegation saying the conference in Doha is not a “wedding party”.
The proposed talks are since faced with a deadlock amid efforts to revive the nascent peace process as the raging war continues to claim more lives in the war-ravaged country.
Pakistan’s new government and Afghanistan
Abdullah said the Pakistani government hasn’t changed its policies on Afghanistan, since Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed his office in August 2018.
“Positive statements have been made, but there are many things that need to be done about mutual respect and recognition of the national sovereignty of countries,” Abdullah said and added: “Afghanistan wants to live in peace without interfering with each other's internal affairs in the framework of mutual respect with neighbors.”
In December, Pakistan confirmed that it had arranged rare direct talks between Washington and the Taliban paving the way for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
The process, however, is still awaiting a breakthrough as the Taliban have turned down repeated U.S. requests for inclusion of the Kabul government in the talks.
The Kabul government, for its part, complain of being sidelined.
Pakistan facilitated the landmark first round of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Islamabad in July 2015, but the process broke down after Taliban announced the death of their long-term leader Mullah Omer, triggering a bitter power struggle within the militia.
Chances for a resumption of the stalled process went further dim following the death of Omer’s successor, Mullah Mansur, in a U.S. drone strike in 2016 on Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border.
Since then, several attempts to resume the stalled peace process have been made by a four-nation group comprised of Pakistan, Afghanistan, the U.S. and China.
Until now, however, these attempts have failed to bear fruit except for a few rounds of direct talks between the U.S. and the Taliban.
Anadolu agency
 

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