US Secretary of State John Kerry said on an unannounced visit to Kabul Saturday that the Afghan people should decide on the future of their country, almost two years after he stepped in to help solve a political stalemate.
Afghanistan's two main political rivals, President Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, agreed to a US-brokered power-sharing deal in September 2014 after a disputed presidential election led to months of political uncertainty.
Under the political deal, a national assembly was to be formed in September of this year to determine and change Abdullah’s position to prime minister.
However, Kerry said after meeting with the country’s president and Abdullah, who was not present during the press briefing, that “the assembly can happen later” and "is for the Afghans to determine."
The political deal brokered by Kerry put an end to the crisis in 2014, but the unity government formed as a result has been anything but united.
The political stalemate, a deteriorating security situation, and increasing unemployment following the end of NATO's combat mission in 2014 have had a negative impact on the Afghan public's view towards the unity government.
After the government was formed, Ghani and Abdullah took six months to fill cabinet positions.
According to Kerry, the “US will continue supporting, equipping and advising Afghan forces.”
The US secretary of state also added that President Barack Obama will base his decision on troops through 2017 on the recommendations of General Nicholson, the head of Afghanistan’s NATO Resolute Support Mission. Nicholson is to give an opinion on the matter within the next 90 days.
The appointment of Interior Minister Taj Mohammad Jahid, whose brief includes the country's deteriorating security situation, was approved by parliament on Saturday. Outgoing minister, Nur-ul Haq Ulumi, had resigned citing "internal differences" within the government.
Two other key positions, the defence minister and the head of the country's intelligence wing are still being run by acting heads.
Kerry was in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Friday for talks with senior officials on the progress of the US-led war against Islamic State.
Saturday, April 9, 2016 - 12:39