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Friday 7 August 2020

Loya Jirga Meets in Kabul to Decide Fate of Taliban Prisoners

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KABUL (Ruptly) — Hundreds of tribal delegates and politicians participated in a grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, in Kabul on Friday to discuss the potential release of 400 Taliban prisoners whose continued confinement is allegedly stalling peace talks between the organisation and the Afghan government.

The United States, which signed a troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban in February, has been watching the Loya Jirga closely. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was a key figure in brokering the peace deal, has called on participants to support the release of prisoners despite its difficulty. The assembly is expected to continue for multiple days through the weekend.

According to a peace agreement between the United States and Taliban, 5,000 prisoners were slated to be released, but a small remainder have been kept behind bars due to the severity of their crimes. “These Taliban prisoners are those who played with the destiny of Afghanistan, children and Afghan people. The have made a lot of challenges for Afghans, the threats which we have faced originated from these Taliban prisoners. I have participated in this jirga to see whether the government listens to our voices or not”, said Nafas Gul Jami, a participant from Herat province.

The newly appointed head of the Loya Jirga and former presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah said on Saturday the outcome was “life or death” for Afghanistan and that its final advice would be announced on Sunday. “I really hope the Jirga’s advice to the government is to help advance the peace process”, he said.

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