Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, is rejecting a U.S. proposal for a power-sharing agreement in the region.
Instead, he plans to offer a counterproposal that would see a new presidential election take place in the country within six months. That is a peace plan Ghani will propose soon, according to a Reuters report, which cites two senior government officials.
The proposal is expected to be unveiled next month at a gathering of international officials in Turkey. The U.S. had proposed an interim administration to replace Ghani’s government.
Ghani only plans to attend that meeting, though, if one of two Taliban leaders attend.
In the meantime, the U.S. is continuing to push for a peace deal that would end fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Last year, America agreed to withdraw all troops from the country by May 1. But since then, peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government that were held in Qatar stalled.
The Taliban is looking to re-establish its dominance over Afghanistan, which it ruled from 1996 to 2001. They don’t want the current government, which is backed by western countries, to be in charge.
ZalmayKhalilzad, the U.S. special envoy, circulated a proposal that would replace the current government with what would be an interim administration. Ghani has opposed that strongly, though, as well as any other solution that would require him to step down from his post in favor of any official who was unelected.
According to one senior government official:
“The counterproposal which we are going to present at the Istanbul meeting would be to call for early presidential elections if the Taliban agree on a ceasefire.”
And another official within the Afghan government said:
“The president would never agree to step aside and any future government should be formed through democratic process, not a political deal.”
There’s just a little more than a month until the May 1 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops. So, America is seeking to gain some backing from other countries to help them in the peace deal.
So far, though, other foreign officials and diplomats have indicated they believed it would be hard to make any progress without having the support of Ghani.
Earlier this week, HamdullahMohib, who serves as the national security adviser to Ghani, said the biggest dispute is the political system in Afghanistan, not any power-sharing arrangement. In an interview, he said:
“We must have a rigorous and substantive negotiation with the Taliban first on defining how we are going to view our policies, domestic and foreign, and how our people will see our systems in the future.”
The current government is insisting that Afghanistan remain as it is now — a republic with elections held for both parliament and president. Thus far, the Taliban hasn’t renounced its aim to re-establish an Islamic system that would be headed by a leader who is un-elected.
That system of government ended when the U.S. invaded the country in 2001.