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May call early elections: Hamid Karzai

April 12, 2012 18:52 IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday said that he may call an early presidential election to prepare the ground for handling pullout of foreign combat troops from the war-torn country next year.

Karzai's current term runs till 2014, which coincides with the planned security transition from the US-led forces to Afghan army. The nation's Constitution bars Karzai from running for a third term.

"I have been talking about this (early polls) for a few months now," Karzai told reporters. "With all the changes that are taking place with complete return of international forces and holding off presidential elections at the same time.....whether that will be an agenda we can handle."

He said that he was considering either to advance the transition or the return of international forces to 2013.

"This is something I have been thinking about, and I have had some consultations."

According to the Afghan Constitution, Karzai's term should expire in May 2014 and elections must be held within the next 60 days.

Karzai made the comment at a joint news conference with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is in the Afghan capital for talks on the transition of security responsibilities.

The Afghan President said that he would take a final decision on the issue soon, "I will do what's good for this country in either case."

The NATO Chief, on his part, said the organisation would remain committed to Afghanistan even after its troops pull out of it 2014. "Our commitment and partnership  with Afghanistan post-2014 remains unchanged.....our goal is an Afghanistan with its security provided by its own people and this goal has not changed," he said.

Rasmussen said NATO was on track to fully hand over security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014 as scheduled. He said Afghan forces would be ready to take the lead by then, allowing international forces to move into combat support role.

"We'll stick to the roadmap and gradually hand over operations to the Afghan forces," he said. The US-led NATO forces have already started handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan forces in relatively peaceful areas of western and northern Afghanistan.
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