New Prez Ashraf Ghani talks peace but Taliban stage suicide attack near Kabul airport

In what is being hailed as the “first democratic transition of power” in Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani will be sworn-in as the new President on Monday, exactly a week after he signed a power sharing deal with rival candidate Abdullah Abdullah, ending the months-old stand-off over the election results dispute.

By Supriya Jha | Updated: Sep 29, 2014, 17:19 PM IST
New Prez Ashraf Ghani talks peace but Taliban stage suicide attack near Kabul airport

Kabul: In what is being hailed as the “first democratic transition of power” in history of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani was on Monday sworn-in as the new President at a ceremony in Kabul's Presidential palace, exactly a week after he signed a power sharing deal with rival candidate Abdullah Abdullah, ending the months-old stand-off over the election results dispute.

Ghani marks a new era in Afghanistan as Hamid Karzai`s 13-year rule comes to an end, as does the war waged by the US-led NATO troops since Taliban's ouster in 2001.

Taking an oath administered by the chief justice, Ghani said, "I will abide by the constitution and other laws and protect their implementation," quoted the AFP. 

In his first address as the President, Ghani chose to quote Islam’s first caliph, Abu Bakr Seddiq, saying, “I am your leader, but I am no better than you".

Ghani's remarks have set the tone for his presidency as in what is being seen as one of the boldest statements, he said Afghanistan did not need "any lessons from foreign fighters about jihad​", BBC reporter David Loyn tweeted.

On Twitter, Ghani thanked all Afghans after taking oath as the President.

Ironically, on a day when the newly sworn-in President Ghani said, "we are tired of wars. We want peace", a suicide blast was reported near Kabul airport, highlighting the tough task that awaits the new government.

Just before Ashraf Ghani was to take oath as the new Afghan President at Kabul's presidential palace, a suicide blast targeted a security checkpoint near Kabul airport, killing four, reports said.

According to local media reports, Afghan Taliban rebels claimed the responsibility of the attack.

However, keen on giving a fresh start to peace talks, Ghani urged the militants, ​especially the Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami, to enter political talks and assured that the new government will solve any problems they have, the AFP reported.
Ghani also urged Muslim clerics and scholars to advise the Taliban.

"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," the AFP quoted him as saying.

 

Technocrat Ghani succeeds Hamid Karzai at a time when the US-led troops are set to withdraw by the end of this year, ending the thirteen years of war against insurgency, leaving the huge onus of country's security on Afghan forces, even as Taliban is trying its best to rear its ugly head again, by attempting attacks.

After being declared the President last week, Ghani welcomed the new unity government but not without dropping a warning, perhaps to Dr Abdullah when he said, that it was not a sharing of power but that of duties.

Dr Abdullah, who will be sworn-in as the CEO, on the other hand congratulated Dr Ghani, hailing the deal as “the best alternative and best choice for the people of Afghanistan.

The power-sharing deal signed by presidential rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah paved the way for a National Unity Government that will see the former finance minister Ghani as the president and Dr Abdullah will take up the role of the 'Chief Executive Officer (CEO)' – a new post with powers similar to that of a PM.

The deal has, at least for now, injected a new lease of life into a nation which was hopelessly spiralling down the slope of instability triggered by the election dispute as the country saw itself mired in three weeks of political deadlock after both the candidates claimed victory in the June 14 presidential run-off election.

The United Nations, which carried out a vote audit, sounded the alarm bell, warning of a dangerous possibilities of returning to the civil war times of the nineties. And to solve the issue, the UN organised a vote audit of eight million ballot papers, and thousands of ballot boxes were flown to the country.

At last, the solution came in the form a power-sharing deal brokered by US Sceretary of State John Kerry when both the leaders agreed to share power to run a unity government, sparing the nation a horror of darker possibilities.

One of the foremost tasks on the new government's shoulder is to sign the Bilateral security Agreement (BSA) with the US, which will allow some US troops to stay back in Afghanistan to train the security forces as the foreign troops are set to withdraw by the end of this year.

The BSA deal, which is also necessary for the continued flow of aid to the cash-strapped war torn country, was refused by the incumbent President Hamid Karzai. However, both Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah had during their campaigning, promised to sign the deal.

Hailing the signing of the power-sharing pact, the US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulated the two leaders and commended them for having “put the people of Afghanistan first”.

As US hailed the unity deal, congratulating the two leaders, the Taliban slammed it as a "sham" staged by America.