President Hamid Karzai said on Thursday he is considering calling Presidential elections a year early to lessen the strain that could be caused by foreign combat troops leaving Afghanistan at the same time as the nation is holding a national ballot.
The next Presidential elections are scheduled for 2014 and the majority of NATO combat forces will leave Afghanistan by the end of that same year. At that time, Mr. Karzai will be at the end of his second five-year term and the constitution bars him from running for a third term.
“I have been talking about this for a few months now,” Mr. Karzai said. “With all the changes that are taking place with the complete return of international forces to their homes from Afghanistan and the holding of the Presidential election at the same time whether that will be an agenda that we can handle at the same time.”
Mr. Karzai said no final decision has been made about moving the vote up to 2013 and that such a decision would take a long time. He spoke during a news conference in response to a reporter’s question about the possibility of early elections.
“This is a question that I’ve had and I’ve raised it in my inner circle,” Mr. Karzai said. “I’ve not had a final decision yet, but it will not be soon.”
According to the Afghan constitution, the President’s term should expire in May 2014 and elections must be held 30 to 60 days before that.