Loya Jirga needed for consensus on peace process

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Mohammad Umer Daudzai, head of Ghani’s campaign team and former special envoy of the president for peace, on Sunday in a conference on peace in Kabul said that the establishment of a Loya Jirga, a grand assembly, and the reconvening of the High Council of Reconciliation, are necessary to build a national consensus about the ongoing peace process, which analysts say has reached a promising stage.

Daudzai, who was also a senior member of the High Council of Reconciliation, said the next step after a Loya Jirga and a meeting of the council, will be the peace negotiations, which according to him, should be carried out in three stages.

He also suggested that all the steps should be taken after the swearing-in ceremony of the future president, “whoever he is.”

He suggested the Loya Jirga have a similar format to the one President Ghani initiated last year in May, in which over 3,000 delegates from around the country attended and during which a 23-article declaration was issued. But Daudzai said the difference would be that more politicians should attend the meeting for peace.

“The Loya Jirga should be held two weeks after the swearing-in ceremony and will serve to build a national consensus,” Daudzai said. “A similar event was held last year under the name of the High Council of Reconciliation.”

Daudzai favors the US-Taliban talks as an end to the “occupation” of Afghanistan.

“The Taliban’s official stance is to say they will talk about the end of the occupation first, and this is not a bad thing. If someone says that this country has not been occupied, they should come and talk to me and if someone says that this country has been occupied, again, I will have a discussion with him,” Daudzai said as he was trying to explain the importance of talks with the Taliban to end the 19-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Members of other political parties and movements who attended the event to discuss a way forward on peace, said the negotiating team from the Afghan side should not be led by the government. The Presidential Palace last week confirmed that a list of delegates for a negotiating team has been prepared, but Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah’s office has shown opposition to this format, saying it should be further discussed with a boarder spectrum of political parties and movements.

“If peace talks and negotiators are led only by the government, I can tell you now that the peace talks are over,” said Anwar-Ul-Haq Ahadi, chairman of the New National Front of Afghanistan.

“If we believe in this system, if we value the Constitution, it means that the government then represents the nation,” said Zabihullah Mujaddidi, the secretary of the Afghan National Liberation Front.

Some at the event criticized the Afghan government for not preparing a comprehensive plan for the peace process.

“If we bring peace from the political level to the national level, we will reach a consensus on peace,” said Jawed Ludin, former deputy foreign minister. (TOLOnews)