At a news conference today, Afghan President Hamid Karzai raised the prospect of an early presidential election, saying the next vote could be held in 2013 instead of March 2014 as currently planned.
Karzai presented the change as necessary to avoid holding the vote at the same time NATO troops are withdrawing from the country. NATO’s official drawdown date isn’t until the end of 2014, and no one seriously expects the troops to leave by then.
Afghanistan’s election commission says no one has talked to it about the prospect of holding early votes so far, but that this could happen if the president agreed to resign early, saying that it would have three months advance notice to set up an election.
Karzai won his last reelection in November 2009, running unopposed in the “runoff” vote after legitimacy concerns led his opponent to withdraw in protest. Karzai is constitutionally limited to two terms in office, and he has insisted he doesn’t have designs on trying to run for a third term.