Hamid Karzai says he is thinking about holding presidential elections a year early, in 2013.
Afghanistan's president raised the prospect Thursday of holding presidential elections a year early to avoid a potentially deadly concurrence of a transition of power and a major drawdown of international forces in 2014.
The suggestion could mean that President Hamid Karzai is looking for a graceful exit ahead of what many Afghans predict is looming civil war, but it also could provide some hope for a peaceful democratic transition to a nation worried about falling apart as NATO troops leave.
Karzai — who has led Afghanistan for more than a decade — is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in the election currently for March 2014.
In a news conference in Kabul, Hamid Karzai revealed he would either bring the transition forward or bring the .
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, right, speaks during a joint press conference with the NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, April 12, 2012. President Hamid Karzai said he is considering calling presidential elections a year early to lessen the strain on Afghanistan that could be caused by the departure of foreign combat troops at the same time as a national ballot.
Realistically, bringing forward the NATO withdrawal is not a decision Karzai can make.
Holding elections next year, however, would allow the government to make use of the and logistics that would be still available from NATO force
"I have been talking about this for a few months now," Karzai said in response to a question at a joint news conference with visiting NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Karzai said he had discussed the possibility of holding elections in 2013 with his inner circle of advisers in a bid to reduce security risks and lessen the strain that could be caused by foreign combat troops leaving Afghanistan at the same time as the elections. But he stressed no final decision has been made and it was not likely to happen quickly.
Karzai's rule has been tarnished by a lack of clout outside the capital and allegations of fraud surrounding his re-election in the last vote, but he also has managed to hold together rival ethnic groups and political factions through a combination of patronage and compromise deals — and a lot of help from international allies.