UN Envoy Calls For Direct Talks Between Afghan Government, Taliban
Muhammad Irfan 6 days ago Wed 11th September 2019 | 07:48 PM
With the collapse of talks between the US and Afghan Taliban this week, the chief of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has called for direct intra-Afghan negotiations to resolve the country's long-running conflict
"It is imperative, therefore, that direct talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban commence as soon as possible." "The events of recent days and weeks have shown, more than ever, the urgency of finding a political settlement to the long Afghan conflict", he added.
Yamamoto spelled out that any political settlement must include a promise to "protect and advance human rights and fundamental freedoms for all who live in Afghanistan, including those of women, youth, and minorities as well as the freedom of expression and the media".
Earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump called off peace negotiations with the Taliban that his special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had been carrying on for almost a year, after the Taliban claimed responsibility for killing 12 people, including a U.S. soldier, in an attack in Kabul.
The Afghan government was not part of the talks, but President Ashraf Ghani has said the government is willing to engage in peace talks with Taliban under the right conditions, including a cease-fire.
Many fear the collapse of the US-Taliban talks could lead to even more violence in an already dangerous country. In its most recent report, the UN mission in Afghanistan documented 1,366 civilian deaths and nearly 2,500 injuries in the first six months of 2019.
Compounding violence fears are presidential elections scheduled for Sept. 28, which the Taliban oppose. The group has threatened to disrupt the process, and has warned citizens to stay away from election-related activities, including rallies and polling booths. "Concerns still remain ahead of the elections," Yamamoto said. "One is security, another is voter turnout and the other is possible fraud and irregularities." Yamamoto said voter interest in the election is not as high as it could be � possibly because the public was focused on the peace talks or because campaigning only started in late July -- and he appealed to the 9.6 million Afghans who have registered to vote to exercise their right.
"Credible elections would provide an important political foundation for the future of the country, as well as legitimacy and authority to the elected president, which would be particularly important in view of the expected peace process," he said.