Taliban, Afghanistan government in talks on peaceful transfer of power
The Taliban and Afghan government officials are in negotiations for a peaceful transfer of power after fighters encircled the capital Kabul.
Taliban troops surrounded Afghanistan’s seat of power on Sunday but promised not to attack as handover talks were under way.
The group said it has instructed its fighters to refrain from violence and offer safe passage to anyone wishing to leave Kabul.
“Until the completion of the transition process, the responsibility for the security of Kabul is with the other side (the Afghan government),” a spokesman for the group said in a tweet.
The Afghan government soon after signalled there were negotiations under way to avoid bloodshed in Kabul and to transition power.
Suhail Shaheen, international media spokesman for the Taliban, said the group expects a peaceful transition of power in the next few days.
“We assure the people, particularly in the city of Kabul, that their properties, their lives are safe,” the spokesman said in an interview with the BBC.
“Our leadership had instructed our forces to remain at the gates of Kabul, not to enter the city. We are awaiting a peaceful transfer of power,” he said, adding the Taliban expected that to happen in a matter of days.
Afghan Minister of the Interior Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal says there will be a “peaceful transfer of power” to a transitional government after the Taliban ordered its fighters to hold back from entering Kabul.
“The Afghan people should not worry… There will be no attack on the city and there will be a peaceful transfer of power to the transitional government,” he said in a recorded speech.
A source close to President Ashraf Ghani has denied reports that he has fled the country, saying the president spent most of the morning in the garden of the ARG Presidential Palace with the first lady.
The Taliban have released a statement online saying they have instructed their forces not to cross the gates of Kabul and take the city by force.
Instead, they say, “negotiations are under way to ensure that the transition process is completed safely and securely, without compromising the lives, property and honour of anyone, and without compromising the lives of Kabulis.”
They also released another statement trying to reassure banks, merchants and other entrepreneurs that their property, money and institutions will not be disturbed by the armed group.
Despite the online assurances, people continue to leave the city streets and try to find ways to head home.