Karzai approves Afghan presidential elections in August

Karzai approves Afghan presidential elections in August Kabul  - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday approved a decision by the election commission to set presidential polls in August, retracting his earlier decree that called for the voting to be held next month.

Karzai had thrown the country into political turmoil last week by ordering the Independent Election Commission, which had set balloting for August 20, to bring the election forward to comply with the constitution.

The decision sparked an outcry among the opposition and the international community while the commission defended its initial decision, saying poor weather, security problems, and budgetary and operational challenges stood in the way of an earlier election.

"I have accepted the decision of the election commission," Karzai told reporters in his fortified presidential palace, adding that he agreed with the commission that it was facing challenges that made it unable to hold the polls on time.

Karzai also said he was determined to run for re-election, countering recent speculation that because of his unpopularity inside the country and among his international backers, Karzai might not put himself forward for the next polling.

Karzai's term expires May 22, and according to the constitution, elections must be held 30 to 60 days before that date.

Karzai's opponents have warned that they would not recognize him as the legitimate president if he remained in office after the expiration of his term.

Afghan and international monitors said they fear that Afghanistan's fragile democracy would be paralysed unless a consensus is made among political powerbrokers on who would rule the country after May 22. (dpa)