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Asia-Pacific

Abdullah slams Karzai's Taliban peace plan

media Abdullah Abdullah REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

The man who claims to have been robbed of Afghanistan's presidency in last August's election, Abdullah Abdullah, has slammed President Hamid Karzai's drive for reconciliation with the Taliban on a visit to Paris.

Karzai's peace-at-any-price plan is "very vague", Abdullah says.

“I don’t think that they know what they are talking about,” he told RFI at a conference at Paris think-tank Ifri. “Sometimes they give the perception that if everything is being done in order to reconcile tomorrow with the Taliban there will be peace.”

Q+A: Abdullah Abdullah in Paris 19/02/2010 - by Tony Cross Listen

But, Abdullah says, the policy should be “transparent” and should not “violate the rights” of Afghans who fear a return to Taliban rule.

“My opinion is that we can only work it out at this stage at local level, rather than thinking of the movement as a whole,” he says.

The Nato-led Moshtarak offensive in Helmand province was “important and necessary”, Abdullah believes, but permanent victory depends on how civilians living in the area are treated.

“Militarily it could be a success but lasting success means that we have the people on our side. That’s winning the hearts and minds of the people and that’s the job of the Afghan government. So what sort of system replaces what was going on there, that’s important."

Abdullah says that he has put the row over alleged vote fraud in the presidential poll behind him for the sake of the nation.

But he has formed an anti-Karzai alliance, to be called the Coalition for Change and Hope, which will stand candidates throughout the country in the general election which is due to take place in September this year.

If the election is not free and fair, “it will not be a step forward”, he says.

The Karzai-appointed Independent Election Commission should be put under parliamentary oversight, he believes. And he is anxious that a commission has proposed that no foreigners should sit on the Elections Complaints Commission, which had international representatives last August and was critical of the poll.

Quietly, a critical new electoral reform draft makes the rounds

Although Abdullah, who is half Pahstun, half Tajik, won support primarily in the north of the country in August, he says that his movement will stand throughout the country, including in the Pastun-majority south.

“We already have a bloc of parliamentarians in the current parliament … which is over 50 people,” he says. “That will hopefully change in the upcoming parliament with some transparency in the process."

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