Afghanistan’s President Ghani signs power-sharing deal with rival Abdullah

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah have signed a power-sharing agreement to end a multi-month political stalemate, Ghani spokesman said on Sunday, a step that could facilitate efforts to end the country’s long-running war.

“The political agreement between President Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has just been signed,” said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for Ghani, on Twitter. Abdullah would head the council for peace talks with the insurgent Taliban and his team would be in the cabinet, added Sediqqi.

Seddiqi said more details would be released shortly. It was not immediately known which ministerial positions the Abdullah camp would control.

Abdullah challenged the results of an election in September and announced the formation of a parallel government earlier this year, undermining the Ghani administration at a time when the United States was trying to advance a peace process with the Taliban to end the 19-year war in Afghanistan. .

Discussions on the final sticking points, including the allocation of certain key positions, were ongoing throughout the day, three sources said.

Abdullah had wanted to control a large portfolio like finance or foreign affairs and although Ghani did not accept this, he could offer control of the Interior Ministry, sources said shortly before the signing of the agreement.

Washington was frustrated by the growing deadlock between the two men, even after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Kabul in March to mediate. He announced that he planned to cut $ 1 billion in aid because the men disagreed.

Growing financial pressures

It was not immediately clear whether the Sunday agreement would restore the aid pledge. Afghanistan is facing increasing budgetary pressures, as tax revenues are dwindling and foreign aid pledges expected this year are expected to decline.

Officials say an agreement between Ghani and Abdullah is crucial to launch peace talks, since Abdullah camp represents a large part of the northwest of the country.

But the talks face a number of major challenges as violence in the country increases. An attack on a Kabul maternity hospital this week prompted Ghani to put the military in an “offensive” position against insurgent groups.

The Taliban have denied any involvement in the attack, but the government has remained skeptical and angry at the Taliban’s attacks on the Afghan army, which is undermining the peace talks due to start in March.

US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said Friday that a new date for intra-Afghan peace talks is under discussion and that he will be visiting the region soon and will try to encourage a reduction in violence.