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NCA’s assessment of the Bonn Conference Conclusions

Speaking to the journalists in the Media Centre of the Conference on 5th December, Mr. Saikal said that the international community spoke with one voice at the conference and affirmed its long-term partnership with Afghanistan, for which NCA is grateful. However, what has emerged from the Bonn Conference is a legally non-binding document, without benchmarks and timelines and without an implementation mechanism, which weakens its practicality.

Mr. Saikal added the NCA’s active diplomacy prior to the Conference helped strengthen the need for improvement in such areas as the rule of law, governance and electoral process in the concluding document, known as ‘Afghanistan and the International Community: From Transition to the Transformation Decade’.

He thanked members of the international community for valuing the views of the political opposition and taking them on board even on the eve of the Conference.

Mr. Saikal revealed that during meetings with the international delegations, he heard complaints about the performance of the Afghan Government in the preparation of the draft proposal to the Conference. He said that the Government submitted a basic draft to the International Contact Group (ICG) in Astana, only less than three weeks before the Conference, which indeed proved to be too late, given the size of the Conference.

The drafters did not consult the Afghan Parliament, political opposition, civil society, the private sector and other relevant groups. Hence, the draft reflected the views of a weak government with very little popular support. Had the Government taken the Conference seriously and shared the proposal with other internal stakeholders, the outcome of the Bonn Conference would have been richer and a lot more practical.

Mr. Saikal warned that President Karzai’s past statements had not matched his actions. It was important that a practical mechanism had been developed by the Bonn Conference to monitor his performance and prevent the Afghan Government from subverting the laws of Afghanistan and marginalizing state institutions.

Commenting on the contents of the Conference Conclusions, he expressed concern over the “promotion of traditional civil society structures in the country’s democratic processes”, without establishing the legal basis of these structures. He added that the Karzai team will use these mechanisms to promote traditionalism and tribalism, in order to strengthen personalization rather than institutionalization of politics in support of his rule in the country.

He said it was important for the Conference to set the date for the next Presidential elections and assure the Afghan people that it will be a fraud-free and fair election. This, however, was not addressed by the Conference, and the international delegates were only urged to focus on it during the future conferences.

Afghan political opposition will continue its dialogue with the international community.

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