Afghan government postponing the President’s inauguration ceremony.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has decided to postpone his inauguration to a new term until March 9th, according to his office, after Washington warned Kabul not to allow the dispute over the election result to hinder reaching a historic agreement allowing the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.
The Afghan presidential elections were held last September, and Ghani was declared the winner of a second term last week. His opponent, President of the Executive Authority Abdullah Abdullah, rejected the election results and promised to form a parallel government.
The dispute between them has cast a shadow over efforts to reach an agreement between the United States and the Taliban that could end the longest American war and open the doors of an unknown future to the war-torn country.
The agreement is expected to be signed in Doha on Saturday. It provides for the withdrawal of thousands of American soldiers from Afghanistan in exchange for various security guarantees from the Taliban with the promise of talks with the government of Ghani in the capital, Kabul.
Ghani did not refer to the talks in an announcement, saying only that the delay was caused by “rumors of the spread of the Corona virus” and allowing more time for foreign figures to arrange their travel.
Abdullah also intends to hold his inauguration ceremony as president, but he has not set a date for that yet. Washington fears that the current dispute between the two rivals will harm Kabul’s negotiating position and leave the Taliban in a stronger position in Doha.
A State Department spokeswoman said, “It is time to focus not on electoral politics, but on taking steps toward a lasting peace.”
The US envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, called on the president and other leaders to “ensure that the new government is inclusive and reflects the aspirations of all Afghans.”
The Taliban, the United States, and Afghan forces reached an agreement for a week-long partial truce that entered its fifth day on Wednesday.
The truce has reduced the number of Taliban attacks dramatically. However, the situation remains tense as the Ministry of Interior announced the death of 4, including three civilians, in five attacks on Wednesday, and 9 other civilians were injured in a separate bombing in Kabul the same day, and the Taliban immediately denied responsibility for these attacks.