Afghan Taliban responds to President Ghani's offer

Afghan Taliban responds to President Ghani's offer

KABUL - *The Taliban has rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s call for the group to take part in the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections. *

In a statement issued by the group on Sunday night, they reiterated their stance that Afghanistan is an occupied country.

This comes after Ghani on Saturday officially launched the voter registration process and signed up to vote in the upcoming elections.

Speaking at the event, Ghani reiterated the peace offer made in February to the Taliban and said they must end the war and register as a political group.

He also said the Taliban should prepare themselves to take part in the elections adding that elections were a means to end disagreements.

But the Taliban said in their statement that Afghanistan is occupied, with thousands of foreign troops in the country and that major political and military decisions are “taken by the occupiers”.

“We have seen in past elections that people have been cheated and the final decision was taken by John Kerry (former US Secretary of State), and the National Unity Government was created at the US embassy in Kabul,” the statement read.

The group also called on the people to boycott the elections.

The Taliban has still not however responded to Ghani’s peace offer made at the Kabul Process meeting at the end of January.

Calls meanwhile for the group to join the peace process have been growing – from within Afghanistan and the international community.

However, last week, Hakimullah Mujahid, a former member of the insurgent group said the Taliban are holding discussions about Ghani’s peace offer.

Mujahid, who is now a member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC), said: “The Taliban are conducting consultations and there is the possibility that they give a positive response to the Afghan government, at a time that the war is going on, we hope that the Taliban come up with a positive response.”

Pierre Mayaudon, the European Union’s Head of Delegation to Afghanistan, also commented on the issue recently and said the Taliban’s failure so far to reject the offer raises hopes that the group will act in a positive manner.

“The absence of a response by the Taliban is not a sign of refusal, may be it is a sign that they are debating about what kind of response they can give to this peace plan which is very complex. So we are not so concerned about the absence of a response,” said Mayaudon.