April 26, 2019
KABUL — Afghan President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the term of the nation’s new parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, Friday even as Kabul awaits results from an election held last October.
The election for the third parliament since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 was delayed by three years due to differences between the camps of President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah that dragged the process of electoral reforms.
The constitutional term of the previous parliament ended in 2015, but Ghani allowed it to continue through a presidential decree.
After the elections were finally held in October 2018, the announcement of results was delayed due to controversies surrounding the fairness and transparency of the process and allegations of voter fraud.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Ghani hailed the election of mostly young people, who he said would guard women’s and human rights.
He also demanded a deadline for the announcement of results from Kabul province that includes the capital city and surrounding districts. The results are held back as electoral bodies try to verify the results after a large number of allegations of fraud.
Responding to opposition demands for Ghani to step down at the end of his term and allow the formation of an interim government, the president said he would continue in his position until the next election scheduled for September 28.
Constitutionally, Ghani’s term would end on May 22. However, the presidential elections that were supposed to be held earlier this year were delayed until September.
The new parliament starts its business as talks continue between the United States and the Taliban to try to find an end to the ongoing conflict in the country, which has become the longest American conflict in the nation’s history.
The Taliban do not accept the Afghan constitution in its current form and are likely to demand changes if the talks proceed to the next level.