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VOA Exclusive Interview with President Karzai

VOA's Ahmad Fawad Lami (right) interviews President Karzai on Monday, July 14 at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
VOA's Ahmad Fawad Lami (right) interviews President Karzai on Monday, July 14 at the Presidential Palace in Kabul.

In an exclusive interview with Voice of America, Afghan President Hamid Karzai made clear his displeasure with the deal recently brokered by Secretary of State Kerry in which the Afghan government agreed to an audit of all votes cast in the June presidential runoff. What made him accept it, he said, is that the “Afghan people are waiting ... impatiently to have a new president.”

President Karzai spoke with VOA Monday at the Presidential Palace in Kabul. He said he was deeply worried about foreign interference in the audit process, but added that “not accepting it would have caused more complications for the people of Afghanistan. I believe I did the right thing.”

The agreement calls for a full audit of the more than eight million ballots over the next three weeks under the supervision of international monitors. President Karzai told VOA he would “stand firmly behind” whichever candidate won the runoff and was named president, be it Abdullah Abdullah or Ashraf Ghani. Both claim victory in the June 14 runoff.

VOA Director David Ensor, who served for 17 months as Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, said of the exclusive interview, “We are proud to be playing a major role during a pivotal point in the country’s history -- its first democratic transfer of power. VOA has been providing vital news and information to our Afghan audience throughout the election process.”

VOA Afghan Service reporters Ahmad Fawad Lami and Shaista Sadat conducted the on-camera, tri-lingual (Pashto, Dari and English) interview with President Karzai. When asked about the ethnic tensions caused by the election, Karzai said they were not unusual. “These are the hiccups of the election time; they occur in all countries around the world.” On the subject of Afghanistan’s relations with the United States, Karzai was decidedly cool, saying “we built our relationship with them with the vision that they came here to help the people of Afghanistan. But they did not deliver on all of the promises they made with us.”

Part one of the Karzai interview -- likely one of his last in office; the next president should be named in August -- aired Tuesday on Ashna TV, VOA’s daily Pashto- and Dari-language news program, as well as on Ashna Radio. Part two will air on Wednesday’s edition of Ashna TV. The service’s affiliate Channel 1 TV in Afghanistan, a leading private network, is also carrying the interview.