KABUL (Pajhwok): The Presidential Candidates Council on Tuesday said the continuation of President Ashraf Ghani’s work in office was against the Constitution and demanded the establishment of a caretaker government.
The council also accused President Ghani of using government machinery for his election campaign and interference in the affairs of the Independent Election Commission.
Article 61 of the Constitution says, “The presidential term shall expire on 1st of Jawza (May 22) of the fifth year after elections.”
The candidates called the extension in the current government’s tenure as illegal and said a caretaker government was the only option and a presidential candidate who shuns his candidacy should be its leader.
Five presidential candidates out of the total 18 were present in a gathering held in the Ghazi Stadium in capital Kabul on Tuesday.
Mohammad Hanif Atmar, presidential hopeful and former National Security Advisor, said: “Today we are gathered here to send our message to the government that we support the law, transparent election and peace and this government should close its work.”
“The current government has lost the nation’s trust, the security situation and other affairs would face more problems in such circumstances, we first tell the government leaders that their term is up, if they do not accept, we will create a political and national censuses and will tell them with a stronger voice to leave the government,”  he said.
He said it was not acceptable for any candidate that the election date be delayed for a second time a few months later and the Supreme Court again extends the government’s term.
“Our criticism now is that the government has turned from a superficial problem to a real obstacle for peace, we want this problem in the way of peace to be solved,” he said.
Atmar said both President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah had rejected the extension in the previous government’s term before 2009 elections. “So how they now interpret the law in their favor?” He said they would take legal steps if the government ignored their suggestions.
Another Presidential Candidate Noorul Haq Ulumi also called on President Ashraf Ghani to end his government. “All of the government meetings taking place during this period are election campaign which is unacceptable to us. The future of the nation and the peace process should not be taken lightly.”
Mohammad Ibrahim Alkozai, another contender, said: “Today, we are gathered here for our right. We offered huge sacrifices for the freedom of this country and this president wants to suppress our voices.”
He called on Ulema to issue a fatwa for the ousting of President Ashraf Ghani from office.
Deputy Presidential Spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazavi said it was one of democracy’s specialties that people could openly raise their voices and such gatherings were welcomed.
He said there was nothing new in the speeches of presidential candidates and termed the gathering as part of an early campaigning.
He asked the election bodies to pay attention to gatherings having the nature of election campaign.
Enayatullah Hafeez, another presidential candidate, said Afghanistan was the world’s worst country in terms of terrorism and drug trafficking.
A resolution was also passed at the end, saying the continuation of President Ashraf Ghani’s work was plunging the country into a new political crisis.
It further said President Ghani was using his authority and state resources for his election campaign and demanded a mechanism through which the president would be unable to use government resources and authority for his election drive.


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