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Loya Jirga Only to Debate Security Deal with US

Loya Jirga Only to Debate Security Deal with US

KABUL – Nearly 3,000 public representatives would attend this month’s The Loya Jirga and advise the Karzai administration on whether or not to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement(BSA) with the United States, an official said on Friday. A day earlier, a number of civil society groups said insistence on holding the consultative assembly amounted to an attempt at delaying next year’s presidential and provincial council elections.

Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN) Chief Executive Wadood Pidram told reporters the government wanted the consultative jirga to approve a delay in holding the April 5 vote and establish a short-term government. He said civil society groups were against holding the consultative forum and every effort through the tribal assembly to set back the elections would be unacceptable.

On the other hand, the government has repeatedly explained the Loya Jirga participants would be consulted on the security pact. In no way will the assembly take any decision on the thorny issue, it says. A source in the preparatory commission told Pajhwok Afghan News that convening a consultative jirga is a presidential prerogative and the participants will share their views with the government on the accord, proving for a continued foreign military presence in Afghanistan.

Scheduled to be held in coming weeks, the jirga will have 50 committees and last four to seven days. Up to 3,000 tribal elders, government representatives and experts would take part in the event, the official explained. Over the past two years, Afghanistan and the US have been debating the nature of a US military presence after 2014, when most foreign combat troops are to leave the country. Immunity for US troops has been a sticking point that has been left to the jirga’s judgment.

The two countries recently agreed to have this agreement on key issues, but the Afghan government has announced a judicial decision about the safety of the controversial story of American soldiers, assigned to the Loya Jirga and the representatives of the people. But political parties, civil society representatives and parliamentarians oppose the jirga. They suggest any decision on signing the BSA should be taken by the parliament.(PAN)

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