competing against structured fraud
Elections in Afghanistan have gone according to expectations up to now. Dr. Abdollah Abdollah who was born to a Tajik mother and Pashtun father and claims that governors stole his votes in ۲۰۰۹, now stands on the first place of public votes. According to recent vote - counting, Abdollah Abdollah leads and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzi stands on the second place. Dr. Abdollah Abdollah Emphasizes that he has been to the detriment of irregularities and fraud occurred in this election more than others but these irregularities are less than those occurred in ۲۰۰۹.
We are beginning with your campaign slogan: reformation and convergence. Which areas your desired reformations include? Is this convergence just for strengthening the national unity or includes the regional convergence too?
First of all I should say that we had great opportunities to actualize our campaign slogan in previous years, but unfortunately we lost all of them. The overall response to your question is that we are planning to reform political structure, administrative system, modes of governance and the way of dealing with national interests and concerns in Afghanistan. These reformations should be felt in all aspects of public and political life in Afghanistan. Today, people of Afghanistan are seeking for these reformations more than ever and because we are trying to respond to people's demand, we chose that campaign slogan. Accordingly, we will focus on reformations if we win the election. Convergence includes both domestic issues and foreign priorities. People of Afghanistan became familiar with their rights and duties through this convergence. Expanding the convergence policy to diplomatic arena and strengthening regional cooperation and the relationship with neighbors are amongst our main programs. So I emphasize that choosing these words as campaign slogan is because of necessities that are felt in Afghanistan. We hope to have the opportunity to actualize these plans in future and the people of Afghanistan benefit from these reformations.
You are trying to change the presidential system to the parliamentary system. Don't you think that the formation and strengthening party activities are the basic requirements of having a parliamentary system in the country whose people vote to a person and not to an organization?
We hope that along with changing the constitution, we establish a parliamentary system and also take steps towards forming and strengthening party activities. But prior to that, we should change election rules in Afghanistan so that people would be able to have evaluation between parties instead of persons in election. This issue is one of the changes we need to reform the political construction of the country. You are absolutely right, we should prioritize the process of strengthening party activities in the new government of Afghanistan and there is no need to change the constitution for this, but we need to reform the constitution to change the presidential system to a parliamentary one. Meanwhile we should prepare for election of provincial council which is not held yet. We have some senators who are appointive not elective and, according to constitution, all of senators should be elective. Another issue is that reforming in the constitution without holding provincial elections is not possible because the members of Loya Jirga should be able to vote to the changes. This plan is a long-term project which we should implement in the next few years. Meanwhile the presidential system would be transformed to a parliamentary system in order to increase public participation. According to this change, all the next governments of Afghanistan will be obliged to respond to people more than before. In this regard changing the constitution to achieve this goal is considered as a reform in internal structure of the country.
You had the largest number of election supervisors among all candidates with 1400 supervisors. Did you see any sign of fraud in this election? What issues you complained about to commission?
Yes, there are many reports of fraud which we classified based on their influence and priority and we signed up 180 cases of fraud up to now. We have a large number of reports about fraud in election and also we have some reports about technical problems such as shortage of ballot. Moreover we have some reports from far districts which have many challenges with insecurity. Now we setup the vote counting system and we hope the system helps us to reduce the instances of fraud but the main problem is that we don't know the effect of abuse and fraud in the results of election. Now what is important is the investigation of complaints and to hold the election without abuse and fraud.
Based on field reports, the attacks of Taliban in south west provinces such as Hilmand and Ghandahar are less than previous election and expectations. Has Taliban surrendered to the will of people to participate in this election more than the previous one?
We don't agree with you about Taliban movements in days before election and on Election Day. They declared their opposition to election and actualized their threats. We have seen some insecurity in the days before election for which Taliban was responsible. Nevertheless I think that the widespread presence of people in election disappointed Taliban and also we can't disregard perfect performance of securities. The safety of people in this election was better secured than the previous one. Unfortunately, in this election we had casualties and some security persons, civilians and foreign correspondents were killed during Taliban attacks. Because of this I think that Taliban tried to disturb the security of election as they had threatened, before but the presence of people despite insecurities and bad weather conditions in many provinces of Afghanistan indicates that they want to have security and order through elections and also they send a message to groups which are using violence and terrorist activities as a tool for their purposes. The government which is elected via people's vote could fight extremism and terrorism. But it is early to judge this issue now.
Maybe the election will go to the second round and you will compete with Zalmi Rasool and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzi. Competing with which one of them would be harder for you?
I think my main rival in election is irregularities. If the votes of people are counted, correctly we don't have any problem with persons known as our rivals. According to basic investigations and based on prior counting of votes I have the most votes of people.
You mean that you hope election would be in one phase (will end in the first round?) and you will be a winner of this election?
This is my personal idea but it is too early to judge and we don't want to take part in affairs of independent commission. Announcement of final result is one of the duties of this commission but I think that election ends in one phase.
If your competitor was Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzi in the second round of election, are you willing to have political coalition with Zalmi Rasool and attract his votes to your side?
We don't have any problem with political coalition indeed and we have some relationships with other candidates now. If election goes to the second round in fair condition we won't be worried about competing in this round. Today the main problem is perfect vote counting and we hope that in case the election extends to the second round, the problems and frauds such as shortage of ballot which took place in the first round do not happen again. We have been to the victims of irregularities and shortage of ballot more than other teams and, unfortunately, this problem occurred in provinces which we had the most votes of people. In spite of these problems and shortages our position is better than the others and I think even if the election goes to the second round we will be the winner. However, if we come out as the winner of election, we will try to use all capacities of the country and our government won't be a limited government.
Hamid Karzai claimed that in 2009 election foreign interferences caused parts of frauds and irregularities. Did you see any signs of foreign interferences in this election?
Of course there is too much speech about 2009 election but I prefer to talk about current election and it seems foreign countries have maintained their neutrality up to now and there is no sign of American or Western forces' interference in Afghanistan election.
One of the main criticisms of the people is the silence of current government about financial and administrative corruption cases. Will you prosecute those who escaped trial under political immunity?
My main objective is addressing the priority of the people. Fighting with administrative corruption is one of my priorities but I don't want to take revenge or create political collisions. Fighting with administrative and financial corruptions was one of our campaign slogans and people also asked for it. On the other hand, fighting with administrative and financial corruption without reformation is not possible and we are ready to combat this issue but we don't want to politicize it.
Political analysts believed that Taliban ended its efforts to overthrow the government of Afghanistan and also they know that they cannot accomplish this goal with military forces or political popularity. If, on its negotiations with new government, Taliban demanded some districts of Afghanistan and in return guaranteed the peace of country, will you agree with them?
In our government it is not possible because negotiation with Taliban is one issue and giving some districts to the group which is fighting with the government and people of Afghanistan is completely a different one. We are ready for negotiations and will simultaneously defend the rights of our people. We never sacrifice our people and national interests for such compromise that Taliban talk about. We are seeking such a compromise in which we have just peace that our people demand. My government, on behalf of the people of Afghanistan, will try to establish peace and security in the country, but entrusting the fate of people in some parts of Afghanistan to a terrorist group is not possible. We are seeking a single and united Afghanistan and changes in the government structure would be based on unity of the country and also independence of provincial councils. In this election even people of far districts will vote for me and other candidates and each one of these votes mean that people reject the request of Taliban. If we had an imaginary election in which Taliban stood in one side, they would have a lower number of votes amongst people of Afghanistan. We are seeking compromise with Taliban without sacrificing our nation.