Friday, October 31, 2014

Afghanistan Signs Security Agreement with the United States

KABUL (Pajhwok): Kabul and Washington on Tuesday signed a long-delayed security pact allowing the presence of a residual American force, number around 9,500, in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

Also on Tuesday, the new government of national unity inked a status of forces agreement (SOFA) with NATO, whose combat mission in the country is scheduled to end this year.

National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar signed the vital security accords with US Ambassador James B. Cunningham and NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative Maurits R. Jochems.

President Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah, the two vice-presidents, cabinet members and jihadi leaders were also present at the signing ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, President Ahmadzai said Afghanistan would maintain its complete sovereignty under the deal aimed at ensuring the country’s security and warding off threats.

The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was in the best interest of peace in Afghanistan, region and the world at large, he said, insisting the agreement would help strengthen Afghan security forces.

“Fortunately, Afghanistan remains the centre of international attention even today,” he said, referring to the common challenge of terrorism and security.

He went on to assuage concerns over the continued American military presence among Afghanistan’s neighbours. “Aimed to ensure our security, this accord poses no threat to anyone.”

He added that his predecessor Hamid Karzai, Afghan Ambassador to the US Eklil Ahmad Hakimi and then security advisor Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta had minutely studied the BSA text to ensure the protection of Afghanistan’s interest.

He thanked members of last year’s consultative loya jirga, chaired by then president Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, for approving the pact, which could be amended by mutual consent.

Ahmadzai assured the nation that nighttime raids and civilian house searches would end, as international troops prepare to draw down.

CEO Abdullah also hailed the agreement signing as giant step toward stability in the country. The well-deliberated deals had been signed after long discussions based on Afghanistan’s security requirements, he remarked.

He believed the step would have positive effects on the overall security environment in Afghanistan and the wider region. The people would soon realise significance of the pacts, he predicted.

For his part, Cunningham pledged full respect for Afghanistan’s sovereignty and said they wanted to train and advise Afghan security forces. It would pave the ground for continued US and international aid, he noted.

The US remained committed to Afghanistan and the BSA signing would facilitate aid delivery and training of Afghan forces, he noted. The loya jirga’s decision had proved that an overwhelming majority of Afghans supported the deal, he said.

The NATO representative voiced pleasure over signing the deal on behalf of the Western military alliance. After the end of 2014, NATO personnel would only advise the Afghan forces on how to combat terrorists, he explained.

He insisted the NATO and American presence would translate in Afghanistan’s long-term stability on the one hand and economic prosperity on the other. SOFA signing was also a demand of the Afghan private sector.

H.E. Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is inaugurated President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

 

Press release

On Monday 29 September 2014, Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai was sworn in as Afghanistan’s new president.  His inauguration represented the first democratic transfer of power from one President to the next in the country’s history. In accordance with a political agreement between the two presidential candidates, the runner-up, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah was then sworn in as Afghanistan’ chief executive.

In an oath administered by the chief justice, President Ghani pledged to “support the holy religion of Islam, observe the constitution and all laws and remain vigilant for its application, guard the independence, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and protect the rights and interests of the people of Afghanistan.“  In his first speech as the new President of Afghanistan, he vowed to tackle poverty, corruption and security and work towards development and peace in the country.

Dignitaries including the President of Pakistan, the Vice Presidents of India and France, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, representatives of many countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, various Ambassadors as well as Afghan leaders, past presidents and high authorities including His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan attended the inauguration.  1400 guests, including approximately 200 foreign dignitaries were in attendance.

Outgoing President H.E. Mr. Hamid Karzai also attended the inauguration. “I’m very grateful to Allah to give me the power to hand over the power to the new president today,” he said as new President Ghani was sworn in. Two Vice Presidents were also sworn in followed by swearing in of the new chief executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and his deputies.

The inauguration comes almost six months after the first round of Presidential elections was held on 5 April 2014, and follows an extensive audit of every single vote cast in the second round of Presidential elections held 14 June.  The audit, unprecedented in scope and scale worldwide, was overseen by the United Nations and was preceded by an agreement between both candidates facilitated by the United States Secretary of State, John F. Kerry which called for the candidates to form a national unity government.

“Millions of Afghans voted, millions of those votes were validated through the audit process, a significant proportion of fraud was discovered in the audit and those votes were invalidated, and there is a result, which is a lawful, constitutional result,” the American Ambassador to Afghanistan said in Kabul. Afghanistan’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) presented Dr. Ghani with a certificate indicating that he won 55.27 percent out of 7.12 million total votes cast on Friday, 26 September.

Event Photos

Event Video

Security Council Press Statement on Afghanistan Elections

The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Samantha Power ( United States):

The members of the Security Council welcomed the inauguration on 29 September 2014 of Dr. Ashraf Ghani as the new President of Afghanistan, marking the first democratic transition of power in the country’s history, and looked forward to the formation of the Government of National Unity with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah as its Chief Executive Officer.

The members of the Security Council reiterated the importance of all parties in Afghanistan working within the framework of the Government of National Unity in order to achieve a unified, peaceful and prosperous future for all the people of Afghanistan.

The members of the Council reiterated their call for the Government of National Unity to effectively address the issues facing the country, including security, good governance, human rights, in particular for women and children, democracy and the fight against corruption, as well as economic recovery, improving the livelihood of its people and addressing the cross-cutting issue of counter-narcotics.

The members of the Council reiterated their condemnation of violent and terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other violent extremist and terrorist groups aimed at destabilizing the situation in the country, and reasserted that no terrorist act can reverse the path towards Afghan-led peace, democracy and stability in Afghanistan, which is supported by the people and the Government of Afghanistan and by the international community.