President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan on Monday used his inaugural speech to call on Taliban insurgents to join peace talks after 13 years of war.
Speaking after a ceremonial and democratic transfer of power, President Ghani said, “We ask opponents of the government, specially the Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami (another militant group), to enter political talks. Any problems that they have, they should tell us, we will find a solution.”
“We ask every villager to call for peace. We ask Muslim scholars to advise the Taliban, and if they don’t listen to their advice, they should cut off any relations,” he added.
Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, who had also claimed to have won the presidential election, plunging Afghanistan into months of crisis, was sworn in on Monday as “chief executive”, a new role similar to a prime minister, as part of a power-sharing deal that is likely to cause friction between opposing camps within the government.
Abdullah said,”In this critical period of history, as a team, we are committed to a national unity government based on the political deal”.
On Sunday, outgoing president Hamid Karzai said, “We made a lot of effort to bring about a long-lasting peace, but unfortunately our hopes did not fully materialise, but I should say that peace will surely come.”
“I will transfer government responsibilities to the elected president tomorrow and will start my new life as a citizen of Afghanistan. I will strongly support the new president, the government and the constitution and will be at their service,” he added.