Thursday, September 16

Afghanistan’s Ghani to issue presidential decree over Taliban prisoners as mechanism reached

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KABUL: Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said Monday a mechanism to release the Taliban prisoners had been set up and a presidential decree would be issued in this regard on Tuesday, Anadolu Agency reported.

Ghani’s remarks came after he was took oath as the country’s president for another five-year term.

The historic pact that the United States and the Taliban signed on February 29 in Doha — to which Ghani’s government was not a party — provides for the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for up to 1,000 Afghan government captives by March 10.

But the president had earlier rejected that, saying the release of prisoners should be negotiated.

During the presidential inaugurations — of Ghani and his political rival Abdullah Abdullah — two loud blasts were heard in Kabul. As sirens were heard overhead, Ghani told the crowd that stayed after the explosions: “I have no bulletproof vest on, only my shirt, I will stay even if I have to sacrifice my head.”

The bitter feud between him and his former chief executive, Abdullah, has raised fears for Afghanistan’s fragile democracy as the US prepares to leave the country.

Polls were held in September but repeated delays and accusations of voter fraud meant that the incumbent president was only declared as winner of a second term in February — sparking a furious response from Abdullah, who vowed to form his own parallel government.

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