Consultative Loya Jirga on Peace Commenced in Kabul
The four-day Consultative Peace Loya Jirga commenced late morning of 29 April 2019 with the participation of around 3000 Afghans from across the country including around 800 women. President Ashraf Ghani delivered his inauguration remarks at the beginning of this grand council insisting that his government was prepared for peace talks with the Taliban without any pre-condition. He called on participants of this gathering to put forward their recommendations for peace and find out how the Taliban would be prepared to accept it. The president gave the chairmanship of the council to Abdul Rasool Sayyaf, a former Jihadist, who insisted on the strong will for reaching a consensus for peace deal with the Taliban.
This assembly – the 5th Loya jirga since 2001 – was convened by President Ghani with the aim to discuss the framework for negotiations with the Taleban. Originally scheduled to start on 17 March, it had to be delayed for ‘organization reasons’. Like the three most recent of these Loya Jirgas, this one is also ‘consultative’ Loya Jirga which will put forward a set of recommendations to the government on how to reach a peace deal with the Taliban but will not have a constitutional mandate. The Taliban and major political parties, most of the presidential candidates and the Ex-president Hamid Karzai have boycotted the Jirga, calling it a hindrance to current peace talks.
In several rounds of talks with the Taliban, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has narrowed the gaps on a deal under which U.S. forces would withdraw in return for guarantees that Afghanistan does not revert to a haven for international terrorists. But Khalilzad has struggled to get Afghans to agree on a roadmap for the country’s future. He is expected to meet the Taliban Doha office before Ramadan.
The Taliban have refused to directly talk to Kabul representatives, viewing the government as a U.S. puppet.