Four years after the establishment of the National Unity Government, the First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum has rarely attended official meetings. His close aides said this should be “clarified” by President Ashraf Ghani.
“This is something that should be asked from Mr. President (Ashraf Ghani) in the light of the law,” said Abdullah Qarloq, a close aide to Dostum.
Dostum left the country to Turkey in 2016 after allegations against him by one of his close aides and former colleagues Ahmad Eschi who said he was sexually assaulted by Dostum and his bodyguards over their internal rifts. Dostum stayed in Turkey for 14 months and returned home last year in July. But despite that, his presence in cabinet meetings was not visible. He was seen in a meeting with President Ghani last year in December where they discussed the country’s security situation following reports of high casualty rates among Afghan forces.
Dostum landed in Balkh province, in the north of Afghanistan, from an abroad trip, apparently to Turkey and Uzbekistan, on Friday.
Dostum addressed a gathering of his supports in Balkh where he said that he will “eliminate” the Taliban from the north within six months if he is given the chance.
Later in the day, he headed to Jawzjan province from Balkh and his convoy faced multiple attacks by the Taliban. Four of his bodyguards were killed in the attacks.
The Presidential Palace did not comment on reasons behind Dostum’s absence in cabinet meetings but former deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament, Nazir Ahmad Ahmadzai, said the issue is linked to Dostum’s “inability” that he cannot use his authorities predicted for vice president in the Constitution of Afghanistan.
“He (Dostum) is the first vice president and he should know his responsibilities and if he acts and makes suggestions in the light of these authorities, they will be implemented. This will not be possible if he remains as vice president and If he wants to act like a commander,” Ahmadzai said.
“His (Dostum’s) absence as one of the fundamental part of the system could leave a negative impact on government’s activities,” said Rohullah Sakhizad, a legal expert.
Meanwhile, Bashir Ahmad Tahyanj, spokesman for the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan led by Dostum, said the first vice president is holding consultations with representatives of the people over the upcoming meetings on Afghan peace in Qatar and Uzbekistan.
“The people of Afghanistan are on eve of great events including the peace process, Qatar meeting and Samarkand meeting and he (Dostum) is holding consultations with the people about it,” Tahyanj said.