Taliban slam Afghan president’s proposal of new election

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Kabul

The Taliban on Wednesday rejected a proposal by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to hold elections later this year, after months of peace talks between the two warring sides have made little progress.

Although he hasn’t made details public, Ghani will announce the election plan at a stakeholder conference in Turkey next month, according to two government officials.

The move is likely an attempt to undercut a US proposal – supported by Russia – for the formation of an interim government involving the Taliban to rule the country once the last US troops withdraw.

“The government will go to Turkey with a plan for an early election which is a fair plan for the future of Afghanistan,” one senior official said. The Taliban immediately rejected the proposal.

“Such processes (elections) have pushed the country to the verge of crisis in the past,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said of Ghani’s plan.

“They are now talking about a process that has always been scandalous,” he told AFP, saying any decision on the country’s future must be hammered out in ongoing talks between the two sides.

The Taliban’s response comes hours after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NATO that Washington is still weighing up whether to withdraw its troops by the May 1 deadline.

The Afghan government is keen to keep US forces in the country for as long as possible for the vital air cover they provide, with violence raging in recent months.—AFP