US welcomes extension of Afghan President Karzai's term
Washington - The United States on Monday welcomed an Afghan Supreme Court ruling extending President Hamid Karzai's term until an election in August.
The court ruled Sunday that Karzai should stay in power after his term ends May 22, until the elections are held.
"The United States strongly supports and welcomes this ruling," said State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid. "We believe that the continuity of government in this critical period before elections is vital and contributes to creating stability."
The court's decision has been criticized by Afghanistan's main opposition parties, who claim that the extension would lead the country to "political crisis and instability."
"Political parties and the Afghan people will not recognize him as a legitimate president after May," Sayed Agha Fazel Sangcharaki, spokesman for the National Front, a coalition of the main opposition parties, said Sunday.
"We urge all Afghans to support this ruling by the Supreme Court and to focus on the elections to be held on August the 22nd, rather that continuing to question the status of their government," Duguid said.
"The United States neither supports nor opposes any legitimate candidate and will concentrate its efforts on helping to create a level playing field for all candidates," he said.
According to the Afghan constitution, elections should be held 30 to 60 days before the expiration of Karzai's term, but the Independent Election Commission pushed back the vote until August because of poor security in some areas of the country, bad weather and logistical problems. (dpa)