May 15, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8754

Afghan President Ghani And Rival Abdullah Reach Power-Sharing Pact: 'High Council Of Government Will Be Established To Ensure Political Consensus'

May 15, 2020
Afghanistan | Special Dispatch No. 8754

Afghan news network ToloNews has published the details of a pact agreed upon between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Dr. Abdullah Abdullah over power-sharing in Kabul.

President Ghani (right) with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah

Presidential elections in Afghanistan were held on September 28, 2019, in which the two main contenders were the incumbent president and the former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah. After months of delays in announcing the results, Ashraf Ghani was declared the winner on February 18, 2020, of the Afghan presidential elections while Abdullah Abdullah, with support from former vice president and warlord Abdul Rasheed Dostum, challenged the results. Amid high drama, President Ghani was sworn in for a second term on March 9, 2020.

On the same day, Abdullah Abdullah, who had served as the chief executive during Ghani's first term as president, also held a parallel oath ceremony in which he was sworn as the president. However, due to pressure from the U.S. and other international partners, both the leaders continued to negotiate a power-sharing arrangement.

According to the new power-sharing agreement, which is not yet official, Abdullah Abdullah and President Ghani will have 50:50 control over the ministries. The agreement is likely to end the uncertainty in Kabul, which the Islamic Emirate (the Afghan Taliban) was using to discredit the elected government. As a result of this pact, the Islamic Emirate will have to negotiate mainly with a team under the control of Abdullah Abdullah as part of the intra-Afghan talks. These talks are a key point in the U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in Doha on February 29, 2020.

Following are excerpts from the ToloNews report:

"Another Aspect Of The Plan Is The Establishment Of The High Council Of National Reconciliation Led By Abdullah Abdullah, From Which He Can Issue Executive Orders"

"TOLOnews has obtained a copy of the political agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and his political opponent Abdullah Abdullah that outlines the structure of a future government in which each side will have a 50 percent share. The five-page agreement – originally in Dari – describes the government role given to Abdullah Abdullah and specifies his authorities and privileges and areas where his team will participate.

"The two sides have agreed in principle on the plan, according to Abdullah and Ghani's aides, but discussions are still underway about details. Based on the agreement, the High Council of Government will be established to ensure political consensus in the country. Political leaders and national figures will be members. This council, according to the agreement, will consult with the president on important national matters.

"Another aspect of the plan is the establishment of the High Council of National Reconciliation led by Abdullah Abdullah, from which he can issue executive orders. The council will have five deputies from the two teams. The council members will be selected by the director in consultation with the president, political leaders, people from the two sides, speakers of the parliament houses and the civil society and elites, according to the agreement.

"Based on the agreement, Abdullah will lead the peace process, the meetings of the reconciliation council, and he will appoint its members and employees, including the employees of the State Ministry for Peace Affairs. The council itself has been given the authority to specify, approve and lead all affairs related to the peace process, the agreement says. The decisions and enactments at the council will be made by a majority of votes of its members.

 "The decisions and enactments made by the High Council of National Reconciliation are final and they should be implemented, the agreement said. The agreement says that the council will provide guidance to the negotiation team through its leadership committee. The duty of the council is to create national, regional and international consensus on peace, attract international support for peace, and attract international support and assistance for post-peace reconstruction efforts.

"According to the agreement, Abdullah Abdullah will lead the council and he will receive the same security and protocol privileges as the number two person in the country. The council will be an independent budgetary unit, based on the agreement, and will be funded by the government, but it will also receive financial support from the international community. The head of the council, Abdullah Abdullah, will have the full authority over the spending of the budget of the reconciliation council and the expenses are not exempted from assessment, the agreement says."

"Based On The Agreement, Abdullah Abdullah Will Have The Authority To Appoint 50 Percent Of The Cabinet, Including Key Ministries"

 "The council will be comprised of political leaders, national figures, representatives of the houses of the parliament, representatives of different political and community layers, the civil society, and women and youth, the agreement says.  The High Council of National Reconciliation will have two sections: (1) The general assembly, and (2) the leadership committee.

"The agreement also mentions reforms in the electoral process, which include changing the system of the elections, the holding of provincial council and district council elections, the use of the biometric system, and amending the law on political parties in accordance with electoral reforms. The agreement says a five-member monitoring team will be established to oversee the implementation of the agreement and prevent any violations.

"If the team finds a violation, it will solve it through understanding and will report its findings to the president and the head of the reconciliation council. A key part of the agreement is the participation of Abdullah Abdullah's team in the government. This matter has been one of the main topics of the discussions between the two sides.

 "Based on the agreement, Abdullah Abdullah will have the authority to appoint 50 percent of the cabinet, including key ministries. Sources said the ministries of Interior Affairs; Justice, Labor and Social Affairs; Refugees and Repatriation; Transportation; Economy; Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock; Higher Education; Borders and Tribal Affairs; Industry and Commerce; and the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology have been offered to Abdullah Abdullah by President Ghani.

 "The agreement says that the rank of marshal should be given to the former vice president Gen. Abdul Rasheed Dostum. He should also be given the membership of the High Council of Government and the National Security Council, said the plan. The agreement mentions that the provincial governors will be appointed based on a rule agreed upon by both sides. And appointments and removals should be made based on justifiable reasons, and new appointees should be made based on merit and legal conditions.

 "Part of the agreement mentions that those political leaders who have been engaged in the peace process should be appreciated. These leaders include former High Peace Council (HPC) chief and former president Burhanuddin Rabbani who was killed in a suicide attack in  2011, his son Salahuddin Rabbani who also served as HPC chief and foreign affairs minister, the former head of HPC Sayed Ahmad Gailani who died in  2017, and the incumbent HPC chief Mohammad Karim Khalili."

Source: (Afghanistan), May 15, 2020.

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