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Diplomacy in Action

Interview With BBC Radio 4


Interview
Dan Feldman
Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan 
London, United Kingdom
July 29, 2014

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BBC: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, one of the two favorites, claimed there was so much fraud his opponent Ashraf Afghani had stolen the election. So there were various recounts and investigations. Dr. Abdullah declared himself the winner, threatened to form a rival government. Now well, what is happening? The Americans are trying to mediate, broker some sort of agreement there. Dan Feldman is their new, or he’s about to take over, as the Special Representative and he’s on the line. Good morning to you.

Mr. Feldman: Good morning.

BBC: Where are we now?

Mr. Feldman: Where are we now. We’re still making slow, slower than we had hoped but steady progress on the audit process itself. Right now it’s actually been suspended for three days due to the Eid holidays, but we expect it to resume on Thursday.

BBC: I’m sorry, when you say the audit process you mean recounting all the votes effectively?

Mr. Feldman: That’s right. The candidates when Secretary Kerry was there about two and a half weeks ago committed to a 100 percent audit. So all eight million ballots that have been cast, 23,000 ballot boxes will be recounted during the course of this audit process.

BBC: And then when that is finished, do you believe, because there are suggestions this will not be the case, that both parties, whoever loses as it were, will accept it?

Mr. Feldman: That was exactly what both candidates committed to when Secretary Kerry was there, that because this audit process would help to confer legitimacy on the results of the audit given the widespread claims of fraud, that both candidates bought into the process and would abide by its results. So there will be a president that is inaugurated and the first course of action for that president will be to form a government of national unity.

BBC: But are you personally satisfied that that is what will happen? Because we’re hearing some slightly worrying sounds coming from, well, from both sides aren’t we?

Mr. Feldman: Both candidates actually showed, I think, enormous leadership in taking these steps and laying out both the technical framework on the actual audit process as well as the broader political framework on the government of national unity. Neither of them have walked back from those commitments. But certainly there are many many obstacles that we’ll have to work through over the coming months, both in terms of the procedural issues with the audit since it’s just unprecedented in terms of its scope and scale and rigor. And then obviously whenever a president is actually inaugurated, on ensuring that the commitments are made in terms of governing in this way that is truly inclusive for all Afghans.

BBC: Have you got a Plan B in case it all goes belly up?

Mr. Feldman: At this point the Plan A, B, and C are making sure that the international community and all of us provide every sort of resource to make sure that this audit process works and has full legitimacy and credibility. And working with our Afghan partners to make sure that the government that ultimately emerges is one that’s broadly representative of all Afghans. And really gives Afghans the government that they deserve.

Millions of Afghans turned out for these elections and braved the Taliban, braved security conditions to cast their vote for a future of Afghanistan.

We’ve accomplished a lot these last 13 years and we want to make sure that Afghanistan continues to build and strengthen what it has, its gains. That’s possible when we have a government that is truly inclusive.

BBC: Dan Feldman, thank you.



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