Taliban says not looking for monopoly over power

Kabul, Jul 28 (efe-epa).- The leader of the Taliban said on Tuesday that the militant group was not looking to hold monopoly over power in Afghanistan after the pullout of foreign troops as a result of its agreement with the United States to bring an end to nearly two decades of conflict.

Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada made the claim in a message, released on Twitter by Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, greeting the people on the occasion of Eid al-Adha festival, which will begin on Friday.

“As we are on the threshold of establishing an Islamic government, our clear message remains that we are not looking for monopoly over power because all the diverse Afghan tribes and ethnicities are in need of one another,” Akhundzada said.

“Every individual in society is entitled to exercise all the rights and privileges of life and have their political and social status determined on the basis of merit and piety,” he added.

The insurgent group and the US signed a peace deal in Doha on Feb. 19 that mandates the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan within 14 months.

The agreement also mandated the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government in exchange for around 1,000 government prisoners being released by the insurgents, with the prisoner swap being a precursor for direct intra-Afghan negotiations.

However, the intra-Afghan talks, originally scheduled to begin on Mar.10, have been delayed by disagreements between the insurgents and the government in Kabul regarding a prisoner swap process.

In this regard, Akhundzada claimed the Taliban have fulfilled their “obligations” as per the agreement and it was now up to the Afghan government and politicians to make use of the opportunity.

The Taliban leader urged the government to “immediately remove all obstacles obstructing intra-Afghan dialog and give priority to the greater interests of our homeland” in order to bring an end to the conflict and restore peace.

Meanwhile, the US, abiding by its commitment in the agreement, has reduced its presence in Afghanistan to around 8,600 troops and vacated five bases within 135 days of signing the deal.

“It is good progress that the Americans and their allies have begun implementing the Doha agreement,” said Akhundzada, envisioning the “reconstruction and development” of the war-torn country for establishing a “pure Islamic government.” EFE-EPA


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