Karzai election call upsets U.S.

March 1, 2009 at 10:57 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, March 1 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai's call to hold elections this spring rather than in August upset the United States and opposition politicians, analysts said.

Karzai, who is running for re-election, said Saturday the country's independent election commission should respect the Afghan constitution, which calls for elections 30 to 60 days before his five-year term expires on May 21, The Wall Street Journal reported.

But elections that soon would go against the recommendation of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, which ruled in January that because of security and logistical concerns, the national elections should wait until August. That position is supported by the United States, the United Nations and by Karzai's potential opponents.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement to the Journal Saturday saying it remains convinced August elections are "the best means to assure every Afghan citizen would be able to express his or her political preference in a secure environment."

Karzai is under pressure from opposition lawmakers who say they won't recognize him as president after May 21, prompting fears of a constitutional crisis and a power vacuum, the newspaper said.

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