NUG’s term has ended, but US respects court extension: Envoy

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: US Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass says that the National Unity Government’s constitutional term has ended, however, he clarifies that the United States respects the interpretation of the constitutional court which has extended the government’s tenure. “We passed the end of the government’s constitutionally mandated term,” Bass said in an interview with TOLOnews.

He said that he expects the government leaders and their cabinet members and staff members understand the “extraordinary period” and act with “self-restraint” during this period.

“We fully expect that the president and the chief executive officer and the ministers and their staffs understand that this is an extraordinary period and that they should be acting with a degree of self-restraint in how they conduct the business of government to limit that to the fundamental business of the government,” he said.

Bass said that Article 10 of the electoral law requires candidates to avoid using government resources, possessions, assets and facilities.

“I think this is reasonable to ask why ministers are changing out, why so many other senior officials in government are changing out, days after the constitutional end of the government’s term in office,” he said.

But, on Wednesday, the Afghan government announced the appointment seven new ambassadors.

Also Last week, President Ghani appointed three acting ministers for Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Ministry of Energy and Water and Ministry of Higher Education. The new acting ministers are Fahim Hashemi, Tahir Sharan, and Abdul Tawab Balakarzai.

In response to recent appointments made by Ghani, the Council of Presidential Candidates on Sunday, May 26, accused the president of “bullying and violating the laws of the country”.

They said that recent appointments and dismissals in the government indicate that Ghani had no respect for the laws.

US ambassador, meanwhile, said it is important to be asked whether these changes are in the interest of Afghanistan’s national interests or against it.

In addition, the US envoy talked about the peace process in Afghanistan and said that the United States was not trying to monopolize the Afghan peace process and instead Washington expects other countries too to play a role.

“The United States has not been looking to monopolize your process. We think many countries have an important role to play and we welcome any efforts that generate momentum and push the process forward towards what we think is an essential component which is an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue between members of the Taliban, members of the government, members of the wider society that can set up formal intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Bass.

He also said that it is important that the next elections are held in a free and fair way and this would be the most proper response to the Taliban’s claim that this system was bankrupt or illegitimate.

“Strong elections in September are the best answer to the Talibs claim that current system is bankrupt or illegitimate and the strongest message to the Talibs that the society is not going to lock away from democratic fundamentals,” he says.

“We are focused on to helping this commission be as successful as it can be and to meet those targets that it set for itself in organizing decent elections by the end of September,” he said when asked about IEC’s capacity of holding the elections properly.

This comes a day after a group of Afghan politicians led by former President Hamid Karzai and members of the Taliban led by the deputy leader of the group Abdul Ghani Baradar attended a ceremony in Moscow on 100 years of Afghanistan-Russia diplomatic relations where the delegates also exchanged views on the prospects of peace in Afghanistan.

Addressing the ceremony, Baradar said “the Islamic Emirate wants peace”, but “the hurdles on the way of peace should be removed”.

“The key barrier to peace is the presence of foreign forces,” Baradar reiterated, referring to the Taliban’s longtime stance on the presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan who toppled the regime in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks.

“The Islamic Emirate is firmly committed to peace, but to determine peace, first we need to address the barriers on the way of peace and that means the end of the occupation of Afghanistan,” Baradar added. But, the US envoy says that Baradar’s viewpoint in Moscow reflects his personal ideas and that the US was closely working with the Afghan, government, people and the Afghan security forces.

“Mullah Baradar of course entitled his opinion. We listen to the Afghan government, the Afghan people and to the Afghan security forces with whom we are working closely,” Bass said.(TOLOnews)