UN Chief welcomes President Ghani’s pledge to ‘national cohesion’

UN Secretary General António Guterres

Islamabad, 10 March 2020 – Staff Reporter:

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s commitment to form an “inclusive government acceptable to all”, after dueling presidential swearing-in ceremonies took place in Kabul on Monday.

Incumbent President Ghani took the oath of office for a second term while Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, citing fraud in the 2019 election, proclaimed himself Afghanistan’s president at a rival inauguration event.

“The Secretary-General welcomes President Ghani’s commitment to national cohesion, including through the formation of an inclusive government acceptable to all,” his Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“He (the UN chief) is aware about reports of parallel inauguration ceremonies by President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah,” the spokesman said.

The sharpening dispute between Ghani, who was declared the winner of last September’s presidential election, and his opponent Chief Executive Abdullah, appears to have thrown plans for negotiations with the Taliban into chaos, creating a problem for moving forward the historic, Feb. 29 US-Taliban deal.

“The Secretary-General reiterates the importance of political leaders resolving their differences consistent with the regulations of the country and conducted in the interest of stability and cohesion, and in accordance with the constitutional order,” Spokesman Dujarric said.

“The Secretary-General urges all stakeholders to come together around a historic opportunity for peace. He hopes that the deeply held aspirations of the Afghan people for peace will be realized, through an inclusive government and an Afghan-led process with the meaningful participation of women and youth.

The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to supporting the people and Government of Afghanistan.”