President Ashraf Ghani, who addressed the nation on Eid al-Adha, on Sunday, said that prominent Afghan politicians asked him to remain in power for another five years or more, without an election, until the fate of the ongoing peace process is made clear.
He said the politicians made the suggestion in a meeting with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo [in Kabul].
Mr. Ghani said the politicians suggested that the National Unity Government should continue its tenure, but he “rejected” the demand.
The presidential election is scheduled for September 28 and, meanwhile, the peace efforts are underway by the Afghan government and its international allies.
“While the US Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo] was present, respected figures from this country said that election should not be held, and you can remain [in power] either for five or 10 years. But I told [them] that I don’t want to remain [in power] even for a minute,” Ghani explained.
Pompeo visited Kabul on June 26. He met together with President Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and former President Hamid Karzai.
“I asked Mr. President, in presence of US Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo], to continue his work until peace comes,” Mr. Karzai told reporters at a press conference late in July.
But, Mr. Ghani stressed that people will decide on the legitimacy of the future government through votes.
“The nation wants an active and responsible government… And this is not possible without an election,” Ghani reiterated.
Critics said that the current sensitive situation requires sacrificing “small interests” to “big interests”.
“We should sacrifice small interests for the big interests in the country which is an end to war and bloodshed,” head of Qasid Strategic Studies Center, Abdul Baqi Amin, said.
This year’s Eid prayers at the Presidential Palace was mostly attended by members of Ghani’s election campaign team while former jihadi leaders and other politicians were not seen in the ceremony.