Afghan peace marchers address demands to President Ghani in Kabul

The march began in Helmand province after a car bomb on March 23 killed at least 14 people in the capital Lashkar Gah.

Afghan peace marchers arrive in Kabul
The marchers, many of whom were taken to hospital for treatment for dehydration and blisters, said they won't stop in Kabul [Reuters]

Members of the Afghan peace convoy addressed a list of demands to President Ashraf Ghani in the capital Kabul after walking for months across the country in a peaceful protest against the ongoing war.

Hundreds of marchers who arrived in Kabul on Monday were welcomed by residents with food and drinks after their journey by foot that started from the Helmand province.

The peaceful demonstration was triggered after a car bomb explosion in Helmand, near a sports stadium during a wrestling match on March 23, killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens. No group claimed responsibility.

The group addressed four demands to Ghani on Tuesday: a ceasefire between the Taliban and government forces, negotiation between the two sides to result in an implemented law agreed by both sides and the withdrawal of foreign forces.

“We told Ashraf Ghani that he will have to act upon our demands,” Iqbal Khyber, head of the convoy, told Al Jazeera.

“He told us that our demands will be met but if the Taliban keep attacking us we will have to defend ourselves.”

The marchers gave a three-day notice to the Taliban to respond to their demands.

The Taliban are fighting to expel foreign forces from Afghanistan and to reimpose the Islamic law in the country which they had done before their removal by US-led forces in 2001.

The government and Taliban declared a temporary ceasefire for Eid-al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The truce was celebrated across the country and many Afghans called the few hours of calm “a dream come true”.

The Taliban resumed their operations on Sunday but the government extended its ceasefire, which was due to end on June 20, by 10 days.

The marchers were treated in Kabul for dehydration and other medical issues but they vowed to continue their efforts in restoring peace.

“The situation in Afghanistan got so bad that in some attacks, no group claims responsibility,” Khyber said.

“We are in front of an ugly face of war and death. We have to stop it.”

Source: Al Jazeera