Afghan Elections Delayed; Opponents Call Move Illegal

Karzai opponents call delay illegal, vow to stop recognizing his authority
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2009 7:03 AM CST
Afghan President Hamid Karzai waves as he leaves after addressing an opening session at Parliament in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009.   (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
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(Newser) – Afghanistan’s May presidential election will be delayed until August, officials said today, in a decision that appears to contradict the country's constitution. The Afghan election commission said it needed more time to register candidates, set up voting machinery, and ensure security, the New York Times reports, but that didn’t appease the opposition in Parliament, which vowed to stop recognizing Hamid Karzai’s authority after May 22, when his term expires.

The constitution requires that elections be held 30 to 60 days before the president's term expires. The chairman of the commission says that the country’s harsh environment and the Taliban insurgency have made that unrealistic. “We are not in a normal situation in Afghanistan,” he said. A UN spokesman said the delay appeared to be “a pragmatic necessity,” but opponents called on the international watchdog to help them appoint a temporary president.