UN fails to secure Kabul ceasefire

THE most senior United Nations envoy to visit Afghanistan since the mujahedin ousted the Communist government two years ago has failed in his attempt to secure a permanent ceasefire in the capital, Kabul. Since April 1992 the city has been all but destroyed and some 12,000 people killed in the struggle for power among mujahedin factions.

Mahmoud Mestiri, a former Tunisian foreign minister, had talks yesterday with the country's nominal Prime Minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who has been bombarding Kabul for months in an attempt to force his main rival, President Burhanuddin Rabbani, to resign. The two sides agreed to cease fighting during Mr Mestiri's visit, and on Saturday Mr Rabbani declared his commitment to a 'permanent and unconditional ceasefire'.

But Mr Hekmatyar gave an ambiguous response yesterday, saying: 'From our side we have already accepted a ceasefire, but the problem is that the other side is not respecting it.' The resignation of Mr Rabbani, he added, 'is a must for peace and reconciliation'.

Speaking at his headquarters at Charasyab, 15 miles south of Kabul, Mr Hekmatyar also rejected the idea of a UN role in the collection of heavy weapons in the capital. Afghan peace delegations have proposed that both sides should hand over their heavy weapons and cede control of the city to a council of local commanders. 'We are not accepting the delivery of weapons to any foreigners,' said the Hizbe Islami leader. 'We prefer that Afghans handle the matter themselves.'

Mr Mestiri is expected to meet President Rabbani's principal military commander, Ahmed Shah Massoud, today and to return to Pakistan tomorrow. His failure to persuade the faction leaders to stop fighting comes as little surprise - they have repeatedly broken previous peace accords - but it was hoped that the UN's higher profile would put more pressure on them to agree to mediation.

Since 1 January, when the Uzbek warlord, Abdul Rashid Dostam, switched to Mr Hekmatyar's side and launched a ground attack against the government, the centre of Kabul has been laid waste and more than 1,000 people killed. The Hizbe Islami leader has also imposed a near-total blockade on food aid to the government side of the city for more than two months, threatening widespread starvation.

The UN evacuated its international staff from the city in January, and has refused to allow them to return. 'They lost their credibility when they left Kabul,' said Aziz Murad, a presidential spokesman. The UN's next move remains unclear, but the Afghan capital now faces continued hostilities at least until July, when President Rabbani will have been in office for two years. Last month, however, Mr Murad said the President's term would be prolonged if the fighting went on.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We are working with a school that needs a t...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Events Business) - Manchester - Urgent!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A teacher of Science is required by this 11...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are working with this Co-educatio...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea