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An inclusive government?

Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the main rival to Afghan president Hamid Karzai in the country's recent disputed elections, outlines his plans for the future.

Last modified: 18 Nov 2009 12:11
Photo by AFP
When the second round of Afghanistan’s controversial presidential election was called off and Hamid Karzai, the incumbent, was declared the winner, he promised “an inclusive government.”
 
But it seems that none of his main electoral opponents want to be included.
 
Ramazan Basherdost, an independent member of parliament, told me that the US ambassador has been trying to persuade him to join the Karzai camp.
 
But said he would not do so, because Karzai was not “a legitimate president, but a King, who has been appointed".
 
Dr Abdullah Abdullah, who was Karzai's rival in the runoff election before he pulled out, has also ruled out any involvement.
 
Here is a full transcript of my interview with Abdullah: 
 
BAYS: Will you be attending Hamid Karzai’s inauguration?
 
ABDULLAH: No, I don’t think so. I'll be watching it.
 
BAYS: Why not?
 
ABDULLAH: I can see it enough by watching it on TV.
 
BAYS: Do you see this as the inauguration of a legitimate president?
 
ABDULLAH: I am have expressed my view about the process and how it completed itself, and the decision which was made for his appointment. It did not have any legal basis, but now the process is complete and he will be inaugurated.
 
BAYS: What should Afghans do now? Should they rally around Hamid Karzai? What would you urge Afghans to do now?
 
ABDULLAH: I think the Afghans will decide for themselves. They have the record of the past eight years. Will they be more hopeful in the coming five years to rally around the same man in this situation? That’s a big question.
 
BAYS: What do you think Hamid Karzai should do now? And do you believe he will change the way he runs Afghanistan?
 
ABDULLAH: While everybody is expecting him to change, that remains to be seen.
 
BAYS: What do you want him to do?
 
ABDULLAH: I would have urged him earlier and I had urged him to supervise a credible process, a credible electoral process, which unfortunately did not happen.
 
And I will listen to his inaugural speech and see what he offers to the people of Afghanistan.
 
BAYS:   How divided is your country now?
 
ABDULLAH: I think the country is puzzled with what happened in the past few months and the country is faced with many challenges. Many, many challenges, and the fact that it will be the same leadership, the same administration, which will be expected to address these challenges and come out of this situation, a deteriorating situation that in itself is not a promising sign. But let’s see.
 
BAYS: The inauguration is not the only thing we have on the horizon - we have President Obama’s decision on troops levels. What do you think the president of the US should do?
 
ABDULLAH: In order to reverse the situation, to stop the deterioration of security in this country, and prevent the Taliban from taking control of more areas and more territory into their hands, additional troops are needed. I have no doubt about it. Hopefully that decision is made.
 
BAYS: If I could take you back to what was clearly a very emotional moment when you withdrew from the race, can I ask you now a few weeks on to look at that moment. Do you have any regrets about pulling out?
 
ABDULLAH: No, I didn’t, because while I was fully prepared post the announcement of the election commission taking it to the second round to go for the second round, even though I knew some of the problems will be the same, I was hoping we could get it changed slightly, even in a symbolic manner, so we could go for the second round. That didn’t happen. And of course it was not a moment that I wished to be in, but at the same time I did it after lots of thinking and a lot of consultation with my supporters, and they all said we will not go through the same painful process with the same sort of outcome, and the same sort of picture for the people, a disappointing one. They asked me to pursue what I started my campaign with, to make changes to the country, from another angle, from another position.
 
BAYS: Can you describe to us what that position is? What role is Abdullah Abdullah now going to play?
 
ABDULLAH: Most probably it is the role of an opposition, an opposition which is based on the ideas for the country, for the people of Afghanistan, for the betterment of the situation. From changing the system, up to promoting the wishes and aspirations of the people of Afghanistan like good governance, justice, rule of law, and many other things which are expected. But not from within the government, from outside the government.
 
BAYS: So your own political party now?
 
ABDULLAH: No I would not say there is a political party, but that movement is there, and that movement will not stop by the inauguration, before the inauguration of after the inauguration. The movement will continue.
 
BAYS: What is your strategy for doing this? We have other elections coming up, the parliamentary elections in less than a year’s time.
 
ABDULLAH: Certainly I will have a role in the parliamentary elections, and I will be playing a role. But before that I want to make sure - the country needs to make sure - that there is really an independent election commission. Otherwise it will be the same. These are the things that have to happen. Some of the reforms are very urgent, including the overhaul of the election commission.
 
BAYS: "An inclusive government", we were told by Hamid Karzai on the day he was finally declared president. Have you had any involvement in forming this inclusive government.? Are you going to have your men in any of the ministries? 
 
ABDULLAH: My agenda for me is the most important - the agenda for change. With a few people in the government, the situation will remain the same, more or less, so that’s not something I would like to contribute to.