RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
February 13, 2019
Afghanistan is mourning Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, the country’s first president after Soviet forces withdrew 30 years ago following a war of occupation.
Mojaddedi, a mujahedin commander who fought against the Soviet Army in the 1980s, died late on February 11 in a Kabul hospital. He was 93.
A mourning ceremony was held at the presidential palace in Kabul on February 13 during which Mojaddedi’s coffin was draped in a green shawl featuring verses from the Koran, and later the Afghan flag.
The event was attended by his former comrades-in-arms, senior government officials, and other prominent Afghan figures, including former President Hamid Karzai.
President Ashraf Ghani hailed Mojaddedi’s contributions to evicting Soviet forces from Afghanistan, saying “his death has saddened the entire nation.”
“We lost one of the most prominent personalities in contemporary Afghanistan,” he also said.
In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Mojaddedi as a “tireless defender of democracy and valued partner for peace.”
“He will be missed by not only the Afghan people but the international community with whom he worked to advance peace and democracy,” Pompeo also said.
Mojaddedi led a mujahedin faction, the Afghan National Liberation Front, during the nearly decade-long insurgency against the Soviet occupiers.
After the Soviet Army retreated in February 1989, Afghanistan’s communist regime collapse in 1992 and Mojaddedi, an ethnic Pashtun, was chosen as interim president.
He served two months under a power-sharing deal struck by mujahedin leaders, before Afghanistan plunged into civil war.
Following the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, he served as chairman of the Loya Jirga, or traditional grand council of political leaders and elders, that approved a new constitution for Afghanistan in 2003.
Mojaddedi also chaired a gathering of tribal elders in 2013 that endorsed a deal allowing the United States to keep troops in Afghanistan to train local forces and conduct counterterrorism operations.
With reporting by AP