Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Security Council sees unprecedented opportunities for Afghanistan to seek peace

unprecedented opportunities for Afghanistan to seek peace
Speakers attending a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan said Tuesday that there were unprecedented opportunities for Afghanistan to seek peace and consolidate its political foundation.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, who is the special representative of the UN secretary-general and also head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), presented the secretary-general's latest report, describing "extraordinary" events that spoke to possibilities and enduring structural obstacles.

Among them was Afghan President Asraf Ghani's June 7 declaration of a unilateral ceasefire from June 12 to 19, echoed days later by the Taliban with its own ceasefire from June 15 to 17.

The three overlapping days of calm marked the first time in 17 years that both sides had honored their truce, he said.

While the Taliban has not accepted the president's proposal to extend the truce, the offer for peace talks without preconditions has created a new reality in which Afghans in 20 of the country's 34 provinces are protesting for peace, 2,000 religious scholars have declared that suicide bombings are against the teachings of Islam and there was a 500-km march from Helmand to Kabul to demand an end to the conflict.

"The Afghan people's genuine demand for peace, coming from the bottom of their hearts, must not be ignored," he said.

With preparations under way for parliamentary elections in October, and presidential elections next spring, 7 million people had registered to vote since mid-April, marking the first time since 2003 that a complete voter registration would be carried out for the two polls.

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