President-elect Ashraf Ghani and political rival Abdullah Abdullah have announced competing presidential swearing-in ceremonies in Kabul scheduled for the afternoon (local time) of Monday, March 9. A public holiday has been declared, but a heavily augmented security presence, checkpoints, and route closures are severely restricting transportation. Foreign nationals have been advised not to move across the city unless absolutely necessary.
Ghani moved his scheduled ceremony from earlier on Monday morning to the afternoon and Abdullah had stated he would delay his own ceremony if Ghani delayed his. However, the most recent reports from the field indicate Ghani and Abdullah are going through with their ceremonies as planned.
At around 16:00, four to five rockets landed in Kabul's Green Zone, aimed to coincide with Ghani's ceremony.
Further attacks are likely over the coming hours and days.
These ceremonies come amid a political crisis following the results of the September 28, 2019, presidential elections, which were published on February 18, 2020. Following the results' announcement, both Ghani and Abdullah announced that they were forming their own governments.
Taliban militants launch attacks on government personnel, security forces, and civilians in Afghanistan on a near-daily basis. Such assaults are, in part, intended to undermine the perceived capacity of Afghan National Security forces (ANSF) - and the Afghan government more broadly - to adequately provide security in the wake of the withdrawal of most US-led NATO forces from the country.
Individuals in Afghanistan are advised to monitor the situation, liaise with their security partner, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Those in Kabul are advised to avoid all non-essential travel, and remain indoors and if possible under hard cover.
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