BBC: Mr. Abdullah has talked with Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry has talked as well. Do you know what was said in these talks?
Ambassador Dobbins: In both cases, the Secretary and the President expressed concern about the trend of events in Kabul and the dangers of the current electoral situation going off track and plunging the country into a crisis.
BBC: It has been said that the U.S. might stop its aid if one of the parties wants to act against the law. Is this a warning to whom? To Ashraf Ghani or to Abdullah Abdullah or to Hamid Karzai?
Ambassador Dobbins: I don’t think it’s a warning to anybody. It’s a statement of fact, that the United States and its allies are not going to be able to support a divided Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has made tremendous progress over the past 13 years, and it’s clear from the millions of people who went to the polls in both of the rounds of the current election that the Afghan people voted to continue that process, to continue to work within a democratic framework, to continue a partnership with the international community, continue to develop Afghanistan’s economic and social well-being. But the U.S. and its partners are not going to be able to support a divided Afghanistan, an Afghanistan at odds with itself. They’re not going to be able to support a process that leaves the constitutional and legal track. The idea of a parallel presidency or other divisive ideas would be very destructive.
We continue to support the electoral process. We regretted the announcement that was made yesterday of preliminary results which we thought was premature and unjustified given that there’s still a great deal of work that needs to be done to examine the ballots and to eliminate those that were a result of fraud.
We do believe that this process needs to go forward over the next several weeks, and we want to continue to work with both the Afghan candidates and with the electoral process in order for that to go forward in an orderly fashion.
BBC: What exactly do you want to do? Do you have a very clear program of what to do?
Ambassador Dobbins: I think two things need to go forward. One is that the Electoral Commission and the Complaints Commission need to examine all of the allegations of fraud. They need to review all of the ballots that may or may not be legitimate. They need to eliminate those ballots that were not legitimate before they come to any conclusions.
At the same time the candidates and their supporters need to be in conversations with each other about the formation of a government of national unity, a government that includes all of the relevant parties and important groups within Afghanistan so that nobody feels excluded. Both of these processes need to go forward.
BBC: Even if one of the parties hasn’t won and the candidate wants to say that he’s won and needs to be the government, you want even the party who hasn’t won to be in the cabinet, in the next cabinet?
Ambassador Dobbins: This is a decision that the parties need to come to through talks with each other. I think both candidates have indicated they would like to build broad coalitions that include all of the relevant elements of Afghan society. They need to be in discussions as to how to do that in a manner that makes this an inclusive and broadly representative government. That’s part of the process.
The other part of the process is to continue to examine the ballots and determine on the basis of a fair and open and robust process of auditing those ballots who in fact was the winner. That’s something that will take several more weeks to conclude.
BBC: Mr. Abdullah said that Mr. Kerry will come to Afghanistan in the next few days. In this trip, what is the plan? What do you want to do on this trip?
Ambassador Dobbins: I think the Secretary will want to meet with both of the candidates and to try to work with them to see whether both the formal process of examining the ballots and determining the results of the election can go forward in a mutually agreed fashion, and whether the two candidates can also work together in order to ensure that the new government is broadly based and includes representation from all of the important elements of Afghan society.
BBC: Thank you very much, Mr. James Dobbins. Thank you very much for being with us.