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Karzai Hopes For Runoff Vote, But Will Abide By Decisions

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during an interview with RFE/RL in Kabul on November 1.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he hopes there will be an election runoff in Afghanistan on November 7, despite the withdrawal of his only challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. But Karzai says he will abide by any ruling on the vote made by the Afghan Independent Election Commission. Karzai made the comments in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan’s Breshna Nazari in Kabul.

RFE/RL: President Karzai, what is your reaction to the decision by Abdullah Abdullah, who said earlier today that he’s withdrawing from the November 7 race?

President Hamid Karzai:
I heard the comments by our brother Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. I would have been happy if he would have participated in the election. It would have been to the benefit of all of us. In any case, he is free to make up his own mind.

In my view, enforcement of the Afghan Constitution and pushing forward the process of democracy in Afghanistan, which has been anticipated in the constitution, and also moving toward the election are all to the benefit of the people of Afghanistan. The nations that enforce their constitutions are more successful than those that don’t.

I believe the enforcement of the constitution is necessary and any decision made in this regard by Afghan bodies is acceptable to me. The Afghan Election Commission should decide. But I hope that the constitution will be fully enforced and the election will take place. Any decision by the Afghan Election Commission which is in line with the Afghan Constitution is acceptable for me.

My personal wish is that the [runoff] takes place, and I hope that Dr. Abdullah will participate in it.

RFE/RL: You had a meeting with Dr. Abdullah before he announced his decision. Could you please tell us, what did you discuss and did you address his concerns?

Yes, he was kind enough to come and we sat and talked together about different issues. It was a private talk between the two of us. I don’t want to comment on the details now. It was a one-on-one meeting and we discussed different issues.

I can only say that some of the talks were about issues [Abdullah] had brought up through the press. I told him that sacking or suspending Afghan officials or ministers or deciding about the head of the Afghan Independent Election Commission are all issues that should be done based on the law.

I think that the head of the Afghan Independent Election Commission is a true patriot. I’ve met him at gatherings and in his daily life. I fully respect him and in these moments of our lives, while we are between two elections, the president should not even have the competence to sack the head of the Election Commission or appoint him or make changes because today this would done based on the demand of a candidate.

Tomorrow, if the president himself would have such a demand because he wouldn’t be happy and would change the head of the Election Commission before the runoff to appoint someone who would work in his favor, then our [constitutional] bodies will not be strengthened and democracy will not be strengthened.

The bodies will not be doing their work and the constitution would not be enforced, and I consider this damaging for Afghanistan.