Quotes from Afghanistan candidate in AP interview

 

The Associated Press

As the two candidates in Afghanistan's deadlocked presidential election prepared to meet face to face Tuesday, one of them, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, spoke with The Associated Press in his first interview since a U.S.-brokered deal for a full ballot audit pulled the country back from the brink. Ahmadzai, who will meet with his rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, said the deal has laid the foundation for a national unity government.

Some comments:

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"Our losses from 1978 to 2001 were $240 billion in infrastructure and lost opportunity. The losses that we've suffered in terms of human potential and capabilities cannot be counted. So we would like to say, leave us at peace. We are a nation that wants ordinariness. We want to wake up and walk without bodyguards. We want to drive without bulletproof cars. We want to move around with our children and grandchildren. We want tourists to come to our country, not soldiers."

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"On average, every 40 years, we have uprooted the system because of the failure of the political elite to arrive at a formula of governance that would allow our country continuity. You know, we don't have a single building standing from the 1880s, forget the 1740s, and in 2001 after the Bonn agreement and what ushered in the new era, ministries did not have chairs, save functioning offices."

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"I am not Maliki, and Afghanistan is not Iraq. What happened in the last days should show you our commitment to inclusiveness. The slogan on which I have run ... no Afghan is superior to another Afghan, no Afghan is inferior to another Afghan."

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(On the military agreement with the United States) "I have weighed every word, and I am ready to sign. And I am on the record that I will sign it within the first week. ... Upon signing of the bilateral security agreement, it is going to be the government of Afghanistan that is going to determine how force is used, which international force is present in Afghanistan and on what terms. So this is an extremely important milestone for national authority, and that I think is important."

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"One measure of our success or failure in the next five years is going to be our national revenues and our rate of growth. Because when all is said and done, a country in poverty is a dependent country. We don't want this type of dependence. We want to be able. We are endowed with natural wealth of unbelievable magnitude."

"In terms of individual entrepreneurism, only the Americans and the Chinese match us. Find an Afghan anywhere in the world, he or she is not begging. We thrive on networks, we thrive on competition, we have known money for over 2,000 years."

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