The head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Tadamichi Yamamoto, called on the Taliban to hold direct talks direct talks with the Afghan government.
“The Afghans must talk among themselves to end the conflict and to decide on the future. This clearly requires the Taliban to have direct talks with the Afghan government. We believe that the issue of international forces will inevitably be taken up in the comprehensive context of peace talks, which will determine the future political order for all Afghans,” he said at the UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan in New York on Tuesday.
He added that the government-Taliban ceasefire is unprecedented in the last 17 years of war in Afghanistan.
“I regret deeply that the Taliban did not take up the opportunity to cease fighting and reduce violence. Their decision to fight will only increase the suffering of civilians,” he said.
He said “what have learned is that both the Afghan government and the Taliban have command and control over their troops. Afghans, including Taliban fighters, clearly want peace”.
Meanwhile, he said the Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, hosted by the UN and co-chaired with the Government of Afghanistan, is to take place on 28 November.
“The conference comes at the mid-point of the transformation decade during which the country transitions from dependence on the international community to self-reliance,” he said.
The UNAMA chief said preparations are now underway in earnest for parliamentary elections in October and presidential elections planned for the spring next year.
“Since mid-April, over seven million people have registered to vote. This is the first time since 2003 that Afghanistan is conducting a complete registration of voters for both parliamentary and presidential elections. The goal is a single, national voter register which can produce accurate polling station-based lists. When achieved, this is expected to reduce fraud significantly,” he added.
The registration of over seven million voters is a positive achievement under the difficult circumstances, particularly insecurity, he said.
“This time, elections in Afghanistan are conducted as a fully Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. All Afghans share responsibilities for transparent and inclusive elections,” he added.
Yamamoto called on members of the Independent Election Commission to become fully aware of the lofty responsibilities they shoulder for the future of Afghanistan; to strengthen the foundation of democratic political process and also to demonstrate that Afghanistan is determined and ready to take on the challenges to bring about an independent, sovereign state which can stand on its own feet.
He added that political parties and political leaders need to be fully aware that they also carry a large part of responsibility for credible elections. “Rather than simply criticizing the process, they must be actively engaged to make elections truly Afghan-owned,” he added.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Mahmoud Saikal, said at the meeting that Kabul hopes that promises made by Pakistan Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, for the Afghan peace process will be practiced sincerely.