Although the “national unity government” terminology used in the agreement between Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Abdullah Abdullah has been subject to some debate in recent days, the U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, James Dobbins, on Tuesday stressed that the candidates are on the same page and have agreed to the terms.
Dobbins spoke at a press conference on Tuesday and said that both candidates have agreed as part of their negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the winner of the election will serve as the president and the other candidate as a chief executive.
“I think to certain degree this is up to the two candidates themselves to define, but the concept is that there will be a president, there will be a chief executive officer who will be nominated by the loser, if you will, and appointed by the president, obviously they have to agree on that, there will be discussions between them about the distribution of portfolios,” Dobbins said.
Since the settlement agreement between the candidates was made, staving off a crisis that many feared would ruin any chances of a peaceful transition of power this year, President Hamid Karzai has been said to be upset over the intervention of the U.S. in the election process. However, on Tuesday, Dobbins said that the mediation was conducted upon the request of the president and the two presidential candidates.
“I don’t think what we are doing now is interfering, we are here at the invitation of both candidates and the president of the country,” Dobbins said. “I think that the public reaction to an agreement that was reached last week was one of relief, I think that there is widespread support for the process.”
Dobbins called on the candidates to remain committed to the promises they made in the agreement, including the national unity government formation as well as accepting the results from a comprehensive vote audit.
“Both candidates have explicitly and unqualifiedly agreed to accept the results of the audit and we anticipate that they will do so, they have repeated to me and they have repeated to Secretary Kerry that they would respect the results of this audit and we fully expect them to do so,” Dobbins said.
Dobbins expressed satisfaction with the vote auditing process so far, but indicated he hoped that the process would move forward according to the election schedule so that the transfer of power from Karzai to the next president can happen in a timely manner.