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Karzai Pushes for Earlier Elections

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan announced Saturday that the upcoming presidential elections set in August be moved back to April or May in an effort to avoid constitutional challenges to his legitimacy, the Star Tribune reported.

Karzai's legitimacy was questioned when Afghanistan's election commission announced in January that weather conditions and poor security would delay elections until Aug. 20. Karzai is supposed to step down on May 21 when his current five-year term ends, but will now intervene the next three months. He said he intends to run a second term.

"We are headed for a confrontation," Haroun Mir, head of the Afghanistan Center for Research and Policy Studies based in Kabul said. "This could be the start of a crisis of legitimacy, which would be dangerous in a country mired in instability." (The Christian Science Monitor)

The Star Tribune reported that changing the date of the election back to May would resolve constitutional issue, but would also present the government a large logistical and security task.

Opposition groups protested the delay and insisted that Karzai hold elections 30 to 60 days before May 21 or to have a replacement fill in until the actual voting in August.

When the elections were set to August, U.N. and Western officials had supported the delay and hoped the extra time would allow for improvement in security for southern Afghanistan by the thousands of extra U.S. forces.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that the Interdependent Election Commission said voting in Spring would be more difficult for the ungoverned ares of the country in large parts of the south and east because of voter registration and voting.

Elections in August would ensure every Afghan citizen would be able to express his or her political preference in a secure environment, according to a statement on Saturday from the U.S. State Department.