Afganistan postpones election

NY Times:

Afghan officials said Thursday they had decided to postpone the country’s presidential election until August, saying they needed more time to prepare. But parliamentary opposition figures said that the decision, which appeared to contravene Afghanistan’s constitution, raised doubts about the legitimacy of what could be President Hamid Karzai’s final months in office.

Azizullah Ludin, the chairman of the Independent Election Commission, said that his office had decided to put off the voting until August 20, which would give election workers more time to register candidates and set up voting machinery, and soldiers more time to bring dozens of chaotic districts under control. Mr. Ludin said the new date would allow the presidential election to take place under more favorable summer weather.

But the decision appeared to contravene Afghanistan’s constitution, which states that the president’s term expires on the Roman calendar’s equivalent of May 22. Fresh presidential elections, the constitution says, must be held within thirty to sixty days before the end of that term.

Referring to the constitution, leaders of the parliamentary opposition to President Karzai said they would stop recognizing his authority after May 22. They called on the United Nations and Western governments to help them appoint a temporary president after Mr. Karzai’s term formally expires.

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They claim that they need additional time is extremely weak. They have known when the election needed to take place for at least six years. That is more time than the US has between elections to get ready for the next one.

I suspect the problem is that polling is showing that Karzai would lose and he hopes he will look better after the US surges some troops into the country and begins some stabilization activities. I really don't think that will make much difference at this point. The Afghans have taken the measure of Karzai and find him weak and ineffective at best. His tolerance of corruption is intollerable, at least for those who are having to pay.

Are there alternative candidates to Karzai. I haven't seen much reporting on that but it reminds we of the old story of a guy whose wife tells him she wants a divorce. He asks, "Is there someone else?" She responds. "There has to be."

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