KABUL - In a clear sign of growing rift, leading politicians in Afghanistan on Monday announced that they would not attend a government-led grand consultation conference for peace in the country.
Leading presidential candidates Mohammad Haneef Atmar and Rehmatullah Nabil announced boycotting the forthcoming Loya Jirga (grand consultative conference of elders) to be held in the capital Kabul.
In separate statements, Atmar and Nabil dubbed the proposed national conference as part of the government’s political campaign for the forthcoming presidential polls.
Atmar, a longtime ally of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, resigned last year as national security adviser citing differences as the reason. Nabil is the former head of the spy agency, National Directorate of Security.
Both are competitors to President Ghani in the polls scheduled for September.
On Sunday, Ghani’s power-sharing Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah also distanced himself from the Loya Jirga. Abdullah, who is also a presidential candidate, said he has not been consulted for this consultative meeting.
Last week, the Taliban had also announced they will not attend the consultative meeting.
The Afghan government is set to hold the four-day meeting to discuss proposed peace deal with the Taliban in the capital Kabul later this month.
Last week, Mohammad Umer Daudzai, secretary of the High Peace Council tasked with striking a peace deal with the militant group, told Anadolu Agency that the Kabul government would like the Taliban to join some 2,500 Afghan public representatives from across the country to share views for sustainable peace in the country at the 'Loya Jirga'.
The militants have so far not shown inclination towards direct peace talks with the Afghan government.