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Ghani Proposes Peace Plan Calling For Presidential Election

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (file photo)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has proposed a new peace plan to U.S. officials and the Taliban that envisages a snap presidential election within six months or a year right after a peace deal is signed with the militant group, a senior Afghan government official told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan.

The official said on March 23 under condition of anonymity that Ghani will unveil details of his proposal at an international peace conference in Turkey in April.

U.S. officials have not commented publicly on the plan so far.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told RFE/RL that the group will share their views on the proposal when they finish their assessment.

Mujahid also said the insurgents "don’t want to walk paths that lead to failure," describing the previous presidential election as a "deception."

The administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump struck a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 to withdraw troops by May 1 after nearly two decades.

Biden has said the deadline would be "tough" for Washington to meet as peace talks between the militant group and Afghan government, launched in Qatar in September 2020, struggle to advance.

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been circulating a proposal which would replace the Western-backed government in Kabul with an interim administration, but Ghani has rejected any peace plan that requires his government to step aside for unelected successors.

The Afghan official told RFE/RL that, under Ghani’s proposed plan, a presidential election could be held in six months or a year under the auspices of the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States, if the Taliban agree on a cease-fire.

Under the proposal, Ghani's current administration would remain in place until the vote is conducted, but Taliban members could join the government as well as Afghan security and defense forces.

The source added that, in order to remove possible suspicions of vote rigging and Taliban concerns, Ghani and his two vice presidents, Amrullah Saleh and Sarwar Danish, are ready to refrain from running in the elections.

The official said that the Afghan president had submitted the plan to U.S. officials, who are still "deliberating."

Ghani was sworn in as president for a second five-year term in March 2020 after a disputed presidential election.