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New US Envoy Calls For Parties To End Balkh Dispute

Ambassador John R Bass has called for an end to the Balkh governor impasse, saying the transfer of authority needs to be resolved peacefully.
New US Envoy Calls For Parties To End Balkh Dispute

AVA- The US Ambassador to Kabul John R. Bass has called for an urgent solution to be found to end the ongoing dispute between government and ousted Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, who was fired last month by President Ashraf Ghani.

Newly appointed Bass said on Thursday at his first press conference in Kabul that both sides must consider what’s best for the country in dealing with this issue.

He also stated that according to the law, the Afghan president had the authority to appoint provincial governors.

He said this dispute was an Afghan issue and needed to be dealt with accordingly. He said it was not an issue for the US or any other foreign country to resolve. It was an Afghan problem that needed to be resolved within the framework of the Constitution and in accordance with rule of law.

He also said that it was the right of the president “to replace provincial officials.”

“Everyone involved in resolving this issue needs to put the interests of the nation first,” he said.

“This impasse, this dispute, needs to be resolved as soon as possible because the only people who continue to benefit from this continued impasse are terrorists and the adversaries of this country, people who seek to continue the way things are and to prevent the country and its citizens from being more successful.”

“Resolution of this dispute over the transfer of authority involved needs to be resolved peacefully – there is no space for violence in resolving this dispute.

“There is enough violence, there is too much violence in this society and there are too many conflicts that this government and provincial authorities and citizens are already dealing with. The last thing Afghanistan needs right now is more violence.

“We believe that resolution of this dispute should be done in a way that gives a wide range of Afghans confidence that the result of the transition and the reason for the transition is to strengthen government’s ability to fulfill its obligations to Afghan citizens, to provide security, to enable them to live freely and to give them opportunities to build a better future for themselves and their children.

He emphasized the need for everyone to respect the rule of law in this regard. He also stated that the parties involved in this dispute need to find a political solution that addresses the immediate concerns around the transition but also provides confidence that parties to the dispute and other parties will be able to compete in a vote of support in upcoming elections.

He did however say that he was confident the parties involved in the dispute will reach a suitable solution.

Two days ago, US Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Ghani by phone and emphasized his support for the Afghan government to engage with Noor and conduct a peacefully negotiated transition of leadership.

According to a White House statement the discussion was a continuation of the dialogue that the Vice President had with Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah in Kabul last month.

Pence highlighted Kabul’s continued engagement and critical progress on necessary reforms, political inclusion, and preparations for forthcoming elections.

Pence and Ghani also discussed the political leadership dispute in Balkh province.

The Vice President emphasized his support for the Afghan government to engage in dialogue with Noor and conduct a peacefully negotiated transition of leadership.

Bass on Thursday also discussed efforts being made to bring peace to Afghanistan and emphasized that the peace process must by held by Afghans.

On Pakistan, he said that terrorist safe havens in the country were no longer acceptable. 

“We have made clear that (the issue of safe havens in Pakistan) is unacceptable and needs to change,” he said.

However, four days after unofficial peace talks between government officials and Taliban members in Turkey, the High Peace Council said the group has not officially given the go-ahead to hold formal negotiations.

“Unfortunately, Taliban has not given an official response to the joint call of the nation for starting real negotiations,” the head of High Peace Council secretariat Mohammad Akram Khpulwak said.

“Some factors which are impeding the peace efforts (in Afghanistan) are (because of) the interference by some countries who are not in favor of peace in Afghanistan, the clear interference of Pakistan in this respect, the interference of drug smugglers and activities of terrorist networks,” Khpulwak told a gathering on Tuesday.

The HPC members discussed the recent visit of the United Nations Security Council delegation to Afghanistan at Tuesday's  gathering.

The HPC members said they stressed the need for regional and international efforts to achieve peace in Afghanistan and the need to spur on the reconciliation process during the meeting with the UN Security Council.

According to HPC officials, the organization has held more than 280 consultative meetings in 26 provinces in the country. The HPC believes the consultative meetings will help them get to official peace talks with the Taliban.

Source : Afghan Voice Agency(AVA)
Thursday 18 January 2018 16:30
Story Code: 156606 Copy text available
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