Abdullah to lead talks with Taliban as Afghan power-sharing deal signed

By: News Desk      Published: 04:26 PM, 17 May, 2020
Abdullah to lead talks with Taliban as Afghan power-sharing deal signed

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah on Sunday signed a power-sharing deal, ending a bitter months-long feud that plunged the country into a political crisis. According to the deal, former Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah will lead any future peace talks with Taliban.

"Doctor Abdullah will lead the National Reconciliation High Commission and members of his team will be included in the cabinet," Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for Ghani, wrote on Twitter.

The breakthrough comes as Afghanistan battles a series of crises, including a rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus and surging militant violence that saw dozens killed in brutal attacks last week.

Abdullah had previously served as Afghanistan's "chief executive" under an earlier power-sharing deal, but lost that post after he was defeated in a presidential election that incumbent Ghani, a former World Bank economist, won in September amid claims of fraud.

Abdullah, an ophthalmologist, declared himself president and held his own swearing-in ceremony on March 9, the day Ghani was re-installed as president.

On Sunday the two rivals agreed on a new power-sharing deal, which experts feel could help pull Afghanistan out of the political crisis.

The agreement names Abdullah to lead future peace talks with the Taliban, who have already signed a landmark accord with Washington to pave the way for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

According to TOLOnews, Abdullah will lead the High Council of National Reconciliation with executive authority and his team will have a 50 percent share in the cabinet.

The document between Ghani and Abdullah is called “political agreement.” Giving the marshal rank to former vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum is another component of the agreement.

TOLOnews has obtained a copy of the proposed "political agreement" between President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah that outlines the structure of a future government in which each side will have a 50 percent share.

The five-page proposed agreement-- originally in Dari -- describes the government role given to Abdullah Abdullah and specifies his authorities and privileges and areas where his team will participate.

The two sides have agreed in principle on the plan, according to Abdullah and Ghani’s aides, but discussions are still underway about details. The agreement has been proposed by Abdullah's side to Ghani.

Based on the agreement, the High Council of Government will be established to ensure political consensus in the country. Political leaders and national figures will be the members. This council, according to the agreement, will consult with the president on important national matters.

Another aspect of the plan is the establishment of the High Council of National Reconciliation led by Abdullah, from which he can issue executive orders. The council will have five deputies from the two teams. The council members will be selected by the director in consultation with the president, political leaders, people from the two sides, speakers of the parliament houses and the civil society and elites, according to the agreement.

Based on the agreement, Abdullah will lead the peace process, the meetings of the reconciliation council, and he will appoint its members and employees, including the employees of the State Ministry for Peace Affairs.

The council itself has been given the authority to specify, approve and lead all affairs related to the peace process, the agreement says. The decisions and enactments at the council will be made by a majority of votes of its members.

The decisions and enactments made by the High Council of National Reconciliation are final and they should be implemented, the agreement said.

According to the agreement, Abdullah will lead the council and he will receive the same security and protocol privileges as the number two person in the country.

The council will be comprised of political leaders, national figures, representatives of the houses of the parliament, representatives of different political and community layers, the civil society, and women and youth, the agreement says. 

The High Council of National Reconciliation will have two sections: (1) The general assembly, and (2) the leadership committee. 

The agreement also mentions reforms in the electoral process, which include changing the system of the elections, the holding of provincial council and district council elections, the use of the biometric system, and amending the law on political parties in accordance with electoral reforms.

The agreement says a five-member monitoring team will be established to oversee the implementation of the agreement and prevent any violations. 

If the team finds a violation, it will solve it through understanding and will report its findings to the president and the head of the reconciliation council. 

A key part of the agreement is the participation of Abdullah’s team in the government. This matter has been one of the main topics of the discussions between the two sides. Based on the agreement, Abdullah will have the authority to appoint 50 percent of the cabinet, including key ministries.

Sources said the ministries of Interior Affairs; Justice, Labor and Social Affairs; Refugees and Repatriation; Transportation; Economy; Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock; Higher Education; Borders and Tribal Affairs; Industry and Commerce; and the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology have been offered to Abdullah by President Ghani.

The agreement says that the rank of marshal should be given to the former vice president Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. He should also be given the membership of the High Council of Government and the National Security Council, said the plan. 

The agreement mentions that the provincial governors will be appointed based on a rule agreed upon by both sides. And appointments and removals should be made based on justifiable reasons, and new appointees should be made based on merit and legal conditions.

Part of the agreement mentions that those political leaders who have been engaged in the peace process should be appreciated.

These leaders include former High Peace Council (HPC) chief and former president Burhanuddin Rabbani who was killed in a suicide attack in  2011, his son, Salahuddin Rabbani, who also served as HPC chief and foreign affairs minister, the former head of HPC, Sayed Ahmad Gailani, who died in  2017, and the incumbent HPC chief Mohammad Karim Khalili.