Is Karzai Trying to Steal an Election?
An independent commission in Afghanistan decides when elections are to be held. In January, it ruled that security concerns made August the optimal time for voting. But the term of President Hamid Karzai expires in May, meaning there would probably have to be a caretaker government in between May and August. So now Karzai has asked the commission to move the elections up to the spring, which conveniently would be before his opposition has time to coalesce and campaign in earnest. In light of Karzai’s request, the commission will issue a ruling on Thursday about when the election will actually take place.
The United States isn’t cool with this, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Rosenberg:
Washington signaled its displeasure at the prospect of a spring vote, with the State Department saying it believes August elections are “the best means to assure every Afghan citizen would be able to express his or her political preference in a secure environment.”
At a breakfast meeting Friday with members of Karzai’s government, Afghan ministers explained away Karzai’s decision as being entirely civic-minded. To the extent I could understand their reasoning, they said he worries that a caretaker government wouldn’t be in Afghanistan’s best interest.