The Afghan Election Commission has decided to delay the upcoming presidential elections until at least August 20, effectively giving President Hamid Karzai another several months in office and threatening to throw the war-torn country into a constitutional crisis.
NATO defended the move, which many opposition MPs condemned as unconstitutional, saying it was necessary to ensure the security of the election. The Afghan constitution calls for elections 30 to 60 days before the president’s term ends, in this case May 22.
But the electoral commission insists that it has the power to override the constitution on this matter and set the date of the poll to whatever it deems necessary. The expectation is that the troop “surge” into Afghanistan will provide added security for the election, but with the precedent already there and international leaders lowering expectations for the escalation this may not be the last delay for this election, or the last time the increasingly unpopular President Karzai sees his term extended.