March 3, 2021

Ghani signs decree to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners



The Afghan government announced Wednesday that the president of his country, Ashraf Ghani, has signed the decree to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, a key preliminary step for the start of intra-Afghan talks between a government delegation and insurgents to end 19 years of war in Afghanistan.

“President Ghani has signed the decree that will facilitate the release of Taliban prisoners in accordance with the accepted framework for the start of negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government,” the Palace spokesman said midnight in a Twitter message Presidential, Sediq Sediqqi, who indicated that the authorities will provide more details throughout the day.

The United States special representative for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said in a later message on Twitter that the release of the 5,000 prisoners will begin on Saturday, based on a list provided by the insurgents.

The release of 1,000 prisoners from the government side had already been accepted by the insurgents in the historic agreement reached by the United States and the Taliban on February 29 in Doha, which also agreed to the phased withdrawal in 14 months of foreign troops from Afghanistan

“I urge the two sides to sit down immediately to discuss this issue in Doha, Qatar, to work on more details. The Afghan Government has agreed to do so. When implemented, this will be a significant step in the process. of peace, “Khalilzad remarked on the release of prisoners.

However, the special envoy warned that, despite these “signs of progress” towards peace in Afghanistan, “the violence by the Taliban remains too high”, so he asked the insurgents to comply with their commitments and reduce it.

This will allow, according to Khalilzad, that “the release of prisoners be implemented without problems and that the peace process be successful.”

March 10 was the last day set in the Qatar agreement for 5,000 Taliban to be released from Afghan prisons as a preliminary step to the negotiations, a measure that Ghani had opposed so far, as it ensured that this release was due occur within the framework of the bilateral dialogue.

The spokesman for the political office of the insurgents in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, said Tuesday that they had already provided the list of 5,000 prisoners who should be released and stressed that it could not “be modified by anyone.”

Ghani’s decision to sign the decree comes at a time of political instability in Afghanistan, after his main rival at the polls and until now Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, decided to reject the election result and proclaim himself president, in a ceremony parallel to that of Ghani’s inauguration on Monday in Kabul.

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