Power-sharing essential for unity: Dobbins
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins has said some degree of patronage allocation and power-sharing is going to be essential for a new Afghan government to be formed.
“I think that some degree of patronage allocation and power-sharing is going to be essential for a new government to be formed that retains the support of all elements of society,” Dobbins told a Washington audience.
On the current political impasse, he said it was clear voters were demanding improvement in the quality of governance and curbing corruption. That too had to be a government objective and the two were going to have to be balanced, he added.
Dobbins praised President Hamid Karzai for holding the nation together through his system of patronage allocation. “Karzai governed by distributing patronage. That’s how he held the country together.
“You had a country with very weak institutions that didn’t project much beyond the capital, and you had a country that was divided into two languages, different religious structures, different tribal and ethnic structures, and he held it together very successfully through a process of distributing patronage,” the top American diplomat said at an event organized by the Asia Society.
Referring to the current political impasse between Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah, he said both believe that they won the election and are unprepared to concede and are arguing for high levels of fraud.
“Our view is that in order to address these concerns there are two levels of engagement that are necessary. Two processes that need to go forward,” he said.
One is the formal electoral process. That is the electoral, the Independent Electoral Commission and the separate also independent Electoral Complaints Commission need to review the suspect ballots and discard those that appear to be the product of fraud.
“But a second process also needs to go forward which is a negotiation between the two candidates, between the two campaigns, on the formation of a government that has broad representation in society as a whole,” Dobbins said. “Both of these processes have begun, but both of them are still at a rather preliminary stage,” he added.
Going forward there needs to be both clarity about who won the election, but there also needs to be some degree of consensus about how the successor government to President Karzai is going to be formed, he noted.
The power-sharing discussion between the two camps was at an extremely preliminary stage, he said. “The two actual candidates have not been meeting personally, and their representatives have not been fully empowered to engage in the kind of discussions that would yield meaningful results,” Dobbins concluded.
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