Afghanistan loya jirga demands 'immediate and permanent' ceasefire

2019-05-03 22:54
Afghan men pray as they attend during first day of the "loya jirga" (grand assembly) in Kabul. (STR, AFP)

Afghan men pray as they attend during first day of the "loya jirga" (grand assembly) in Kabul. (STR, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A historic "loya jirga" peace summit in Kabul ended on Friday with delegates from across Afghanistan demanding an immediate and permanent ceasefire, and President Ashraf Ghani saying he was conditionally prepared to implement the call.

This week's loya jirga, or grand assembly, saw about 3 200 religious and tribal leaders, politicians and representatives try to find a breakthrough in Afghanistan's gruelling conflict, which is now in its 18th year.

"The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement should declare and implement an immediate and permanent ceasefire," delegates said in a declaration at the end of the jirga.

They said the ceasefire should start at the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, which gets underway in the coming days.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he was "prepared to implement the fair and legitimate demand" for a ceasefire but stressed it "cannot be one-sided".

"If the Taliban are fully ready for a ceasefire, then we can talk about the technical details," Ghani said in a speech.

There was no immediate response from the Taliban, who currently are negotiating in separate talks with a US peace envoy in Qatar.

The insurgent group has so far refused to even speak with Ghani, who they view as an American stooge.

However, last year the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire at the end of Ramadan after Ghani declared a unilateral ceasefire for eight days earlier in the month.

It was first formal nationwide ceasefire since the US-led invasion of 2001 and saw unprecedented scenes of reconciliation and jubilation in Kabul and across the country.

This week's jirga was a remarkable gathering of Afghans from many walks of life. Emotions rode high with attendees sharing tears, recriminations and at least one fist fight as they revisited the horrors of Afghanistan's recent past.

Taliban talks in Doha

The talks between the Taliban and US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad this week focus on a potential deal that would see the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in return for the Taliban guaranteeing terrorist groups could no longer operate in the country.

Huge swathes of Afghan society worry that if the US does make a deal with the Taliban, the militant Islamists would try to seize power and undo advances in women's rights, media freedoms, and legal protections.

Such concerns were prominent at the jirga, where hundreds of women were in attendance outlining their "red lines" for any negotiations with the Taliban.

"We don't want such a peace that women's rights are not respected, freedom of expression are not ensured, elections are not held," committee member Faizullah Jalal told the summit.

Khalilzad said on Twitter that he told the Taliban "that the Afghan people, who are their brothers & sisters, want this war to end. It is time to put down arms, stop the violence, & embrace peace."

The jirga proved controversial, with opposition figures slamming it as an election campaign event for Ghani.

Among those boycotting were Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious former warlord. Both men are running for president in elections slated for September.

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.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    afghanistan
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.