KABUL – The Afghan Taliban officially rejected on Wednesday the government’s invitation to the upcoming Consultative Loya Jirga on Peace, calling it a conspiracy by the government to prolong its stay in power.
The Jirga is a grand council or traditional assembly of delegates from around Afghanistan set to take place on April 29.
“The Islamic Emirate, on behalf of the nation, reject such fake Jirga and (its) participation in it and ask all the countrymen not to fall victim to such conspiracies of the enemies … and don’t take part in such symbolic Jirga,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Wednesday in a statement emailed to EFE.
Mujahid said such events by the “fragile” government of President Ashraf Ghani are aimed at prolonging its “illegitimate survival” and “occupation” of the country by the United States.
“Such conspiracies and process are never acceptable to the patriot and religion-loving people of the country and they will never trust the results,” Mujahid said.
The Afghan government on April 2 announced it would officially invite the Taliban to send representatives to the scheduled event in which more than 2,500 Afghan elders, political leaders and elite of the country will take part.
The Jirga was convened with the objective that the members discuss fundamental issues on which peace talks should be developed in order to give the government a guide that defines the values they are committed to follow and which values will be discussed in the peace process.
Originally slated for mid-March, the Jirga was postponed to the end of April due to the cold weather and heavy snow that could prevent many of the participants from traveling to Kabul.
The event will last for four days and out of the 2,500 elected members, over 30 percent of them will be women.
The Taliban’s refusal to participate comes at a time when the Afghan government is electing members to a delegation that will participate in a meeting with the insurgent group scheduled to be held in mid-April in Doha, where the Taliban have their political office.