KABUL): A meeting involving major political parties and statesmen discussed for a second day on Thursday in Kabul the formation of a grand electoral alliance, but is yet to reach a conclusion.
Last week, several other political parties, including opposition, announced a grand electoral alliance, but did not name any consensus presidential runner.
The meeting to form another grand alliance is underway at the residence of Mahaz-i-Milli Afghanistan leader Pir Syed Ahmad Gillani since Wednesday, a source privy to the meeting told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source added Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, the Security Transition Commission chief, Zalmai Khalilzad, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan, Hanif Atmar, Qayyum Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai, Sherzad, the Afghan Milliat Party chief and other prominent figures are taking part in the meeting at Gillani’s residence.
The meeting continued until late on Wednesday and resumed on Thursday exchanging views on fielding a consensus presidential runner.
Nominations for the April 5 presidential election is to begin in about two weeks, but Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Hanif Atmar, Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi and some others are seen as key wannabes.
Another source said Khalilzad had ruled out standing in the presidential fray. While yet another source said efforts were in place to bring Sayyaf, a former jihadi leader, second vice president Karim Khalili and the Hizb-i-Islami party into the meeting.
He said the parties and individuals had been set a five-day deadline by the Fikar aw Amal Jirga to reach a consensus on fielding a joint candidate. “The deadline expires today and if the meeting participants do not reach a consensus on a joint candidate, the jirga will announce a candidate on their behalf.”
Former governor and the Fikar wa Amal Jirga spokesman, Mohammad Halim Fidai, told Pajhwok Afghan News the jirga had been in talks with potential presidential candidates, political parites and civil society groups on fielding an agreed upon a single runner over the past eight months. Also, Fidai rejected the claims that the jirga would provided another candidate, is baseless. He said the meetings and discussions continued.
“We are hopeful that these leaders, keeping in mind problems and challenges in the country and people’s expectations from them, will be able to reach a decision as of next Thursday,” he said.
He said the jirga had so far held meetings with former jihadi leaders, including Sayyaf, Gillani, Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, Sabawoon, Haji Din Mohammad and potential wannabes including Dr. Anwarul Haq Ahadi, Ghani Ahmadzai, Dr. Jalali, Qayyum Karzai, Khalilzad, Hanif Atmar and civil society groups.
Fidai said the jirga was an Afghan and independent forum and was not campaigning for any particular candidate.
He warned if the political parties failed to name a consensus candidate, the failure could lead to a delay in the presidential election and the establishment of an interim set up and could endanger the national unity.