Taliban reject invitation to Afghan peace assembly

Taliban reject invitation to Afghan peace assembly

Kabul: The Taliban on Wednesday rejected the Afghan government’s invitation for the April 29 Loya Jirga on peace, calling it a “conspiracy by the government of President Ashraf Ghani to prolong its stay in power”.

A loya jirga, or grand council, traditionally is a gathering of male representatives from different tribes and factions in Afghanistan.

“The Islamic Emirate, on behalf of the nation, rejects such fake Jirga and (its) participation in it and asks all the countrymen not to fall victim to such conspiracies of the enemies and don’t take part in such symbolic Jirga,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement to Efe news.

Mujahid said such events by the “fragile” Ghani government were aimed at prolonging its “illegitimate survival” and “occupation” of the country by the US. “Such conspiracies and process are never acceptable to the patriot and religion-loving people of the country and they will never trust the results,” Mujahid said.

The Taliban’s refusal to participate has come at a time when the Afghan government is electing members to a delegation that will take part in talks with the militant group, scheduled in mid-April in Doha.

The Afghan government on April 2 announced that it would officially invite the Taliban to send representatives to the event in which more than 2,500 Afghan elders, political leaders and elite of the country will take part.

The Jirga has been convened with the objective to discuss fundamental issues on which peace talks should be developed to give the government a guide that defines the values they are committed to follow.

Originally slated for mid-March, the Jirga was postponed to the April due to the cold weather and heavy snow that could have prevented many from travelling to Kabul.

The four-day event will see participation of 2,500 elected members, with over 30 per cent being women.

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