Afghanistan president, feuding rival reach 'tentative' agreement

Dispute was huge distraction for Afghanistan when coronavirus crisis was worsening and Taliban was stepping up attacks.

    Abdullah, right, previously served as Afghanistan's chief executive under a power-sharing deal with Ghani, left, but lost the post following last year's presidential polls [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]
    Abdullah, right, previously served as Afghanistan's chief executive under a power-sharing deal with Ghani, left, but lost the post following last year's presidential polls [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

    A bitter feud between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah appeared closer to a resolution on Friday after Abdullah said the two men had moved forward in talks.

    "We have made progress in negotiations and reached tentative agreement on a range of principles. Work on details is under way to finalise the agreement," Abdullah said on Twitter.

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    Abdullah previously served as Afghanistan's "chief executive" under a power-sharing deal with Ghani, but lost that post following last year's presidential elections that Ghani won amid claims of fraud.

    Instead of accepting defeat, Abdullah proclaimed himself president, a title he uses to this day, though the international community only recognises Ghani.

    The dispute has proved a huge distraction for Afghanistan at a terrible time, with the coronavirus crisis worsening daily and the Taliban stepping up attacks despite a deal they signed with the United States in February.

    "We hope to finalise the political agreement at the earliest so that we can pay undivided attention to tackling COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring a just, dignified and lasting peace, and confronting the security and economic challenges in a spirit of national unity and solidarity," Abdullah tweeted.

    Ghani's office did not immediately comment.

    Speaking on condition of anonymity, an Afghan official told AFP news agency that Abdullah has made a multipronged proposal to Ghani.

    The offer would see Abdullah appointed to lead eventual peace talks with the Taliban while also getting a 50 percent share of the government including several high-ranking positions for his allies.

    Abdullah would also gain the title of "executive prime minister", the official said, stressing that Ghani has not accepted the proposal.

    On Thursday, Ghani's second vice president, Sarwar Danish, confirmed that Abdullah would be leading the country's peace council.

    "Efforts are underway to finalise an agreement with Dr Abdullah within the framework of a National Participation Government," Danish said.

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    SOURCE: AFP news agency