Ghani says truce is key for peace in Afghanistan

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2019

Ghani says truce is key for peace in Afghanistan

  • In order to reach real peace, a cease-fire must happen and bloodshed must stop, Ghani says

KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday that his government was ready for reconciliation with the Taliban and that a cease-fire was essential for real peace in Afghanistan.

“In order to reach real peace, a cease-fire must happen and bloodshed must stop,” Ghani said in a televised address marking International Day of Peace. “If the Taliban agree to peace, we do not want continuation of the war even for a single moment,” he said.

Ghani, who is standing for re-election in the presidential polls next week, said that peace has turned from a distant dream to a close reality.

“If the Taliban agree to peace, we do not want continuation of the war even for a single moment.”

Ashraf Ghani, Afghan president

He added the best solution for the current crisis was political participation and supporting the upcoming election. His comments follow a statement by US President Donald Trump two weeks ago, when he abruptly canceled talks with the Taliban following an attack in which one US soldier and 10 civilians died in Kabul. The cancelation of the talks came as both the US and the Taliban were close to inking an agreement after nearly a year of discussions in Qatar, which excluded Ghani’s government. 

Trump said on Saturday that he called off the meeting at Camp David because the group couldn’t agree to a cease-fire. The Taliban has repeatedly spoken about the desire for the resumption of talks with Washington, but reiterated their threat to derail the elections. Ghani’s government said its focus for now was the election, but added that the peace process would be its top priority after the vote.

“We are committed to peace,” Ghani’s chief spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi, told Arab News. “In terms of policy it is still a top priority for President Ghani.”


Protester flees Russia as two others tie the knot in jail

Updated 18 min 50 sec ago

Protester flees Russia as two others tie the knot in jail

  • The protester faces up to five years in prison for throwing a plastic bottle at police
  • Gubaidulin fled the country this week after realizing he could soon be given a lengthy jail term amid an unrelenting crackdown on the opposition

MOSCOW: A protester has fled Russia fearing imprisonment, his lawyer said Thursday, as a jailed demonstrator married a young woman accused of plotting to overthrow the government.
Aidar Gubaidulin, a 26-year-old programmer who faces up to five years in prison for throwing a plastic bottle at police, was among more than a dozen people who were arrested following anti-government protests demanding fair elections this summer.
Gubaidulin fled the country this week after realizing he could soon be given a lengthy jail term amid an unrelenting crackdown on the opposition, his lawyer Maxim Pashkov told AFP.
“This decision did not come easily to me but the events of the last few days left me no choice,” Gubaidulin said on Facebook.
“I’ve left the country and will not return anytime soon.”
Gubaidulin, who tossed an empty plastic bottle toward police at a July rally but did not hit anyone, was arrested and charged with mass unrest.
He was later released from pre-trial detention and eventually charged with threatening to use violence against police.
Pashkov said Gubaidulin decided to leave Russia after a court this week upheld the conviction of fellow protester Konstantin Kotov, who had been jailed for four years over peaceful protests.
“This affected him very much,” Pashkov said.
Meanwhile in a bittersweet development, Kotov, 34, married a 19-year-old suspected extremist, Anna Pavlikova, at Moscow’s infamous Matrosskaya Tishina jail, said Kotov’s friend and fellow activist Alexei Minyailo.
Along with several other people Pavlikova, then aged 17, was arrested last year and charged with creating an extremist organization and seeking to overthrow President Vladimir Putin’s government.
Her health deteriorated in jail and she was later placed under house arrest.
“Justice failed them, Kostya will soon be sent to a penal colony but love will triumph anyway,” Minyailo, who attended the wedding, told AFP, using a diminutive to refer to his friend.
Minyailo himself spent two months in pre-trial detention after the protests but was released after a solidarity campaign.
Overall six people including Kotov received jail terms of between two and five years over the opposition protests over elections in Moscow which were seen as unfair.
Under pressure from supporters the authorities made a few concessions, including releasing from prison actor Pavel Ustinov after he was jailed for three-and-a-half years and giving him a suspended sentence instead.
But as the wave of protests for the most part died down, the authorities once again began to tighten the screws.
This week, investigators announced five more detentions of protesters.
The latest arrests brought the number of people awaiting trial in jail to seven.
Tens of thousands of people rallied in Moscow this summer after authorities refused to allow allies of opposition leader Alexei Navalny to stand for city parliament in September elections.
Scores of Kremlin critics have fled Russia in recent years amid an increasing crackdown on dissent.