• Afghan civil society reps meet President Ghani

Afghan civil society reps meet President Ghani

13 October 2014

Within a week of being appointed President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai made time to meet with 35 civil society leaders on the 4th October.  Inviting them to a short meeting in presidential palace the Arg, there are hopes this move demonstrates a willingness on the part of the President to cooperate with Afghan civil society.

President Ghani’s recent hard line stance on corruption has been welcomed by civil society.  During the meeting he commented that re-opening the investigations in the Kabul Bank fraud is a start in the fight against corruption but ‘concluding it requires the support of civil society and the media.’

The President further endeared himself to the 24 male and 11 female activists by reminding them that he was a teacher before directing his career towards politics.  In considering a return to teaching in the future, he told those present he feels himself to be a member of civil society. 

Aziz Rafiee, the head of the Afghan Civil Society Forum Organisation, spoke on behalf of his colleagues to the President.  On his Facebook page Mr Rafiee wrote that he told the President that civil society ‘does not want to duplicate government actions and compete with them, but rather we want to complement and supplement government efforts and service delivery.’  He spoke of the responsible role civil society should take, to set a precedent in fighting corruption, taking the lead and ‘being the change we would like to see.’

It is a view supposedly supported by President Ghani: ‘Without the broad and active presence of civil society, the structure of a modern and democratic Afghanistan will be incomplete’.

Afghan civil society activists will have other opportunities to engage with the new government and support the country’s growth.  The President offered a further meeting for approximately 40 civil society representatives to return to the Arg for further discussions.

And on the 25th November, both civil society and the President will be in London to meet representatives of the donor countries and international community at the London Conference on Afghanistan.

BAAG is proud to have been asked by conference co-hosts the British Government to ensure civil society recommendations and statements are heard in the conference.  To this end, we will host a half day civil society conference on 24th November, also in London. 

Called Ayenda (Dari for future), the conference will bring together 200 leading Afghan and international civil society activists and specialists for discussion and presentation of recommendations.  In recent weeks BAAG have been working hard with the Kabul-based Civil Society Joint Working Group and other partners to elect 61 members to represent the sector in London. 

This group and various other networks and organisations, including BAAG partner ACBAR and the Afghan Women’s Network, are preparing position papers to highlight priority development, rights and humanitarian issues for the new government and international community to address. 

We will be developing dedicated Ayenda webpages in the coming weeks to provide further information on this exciting and critical conference - keep in touch with updates here and on Twitter (@Afghanagencies) & Facebook. 

Image courtesy of The Arg