Karzai Rules Out Another Term
Seeking to dispel widespread rumors that he would find a way to cling to power beyond the end of his second term next year, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan said Wednesday that there was “no circumstance that will allow me to stay as president.”
“And there are two reasons for that,” he said. “One is, I’m exhausted. Really, totally exhausted and I would like to be retired. And second, why would I ruin my legacy by staying on and taking an opportunity away from Afghanistan to become an institutionalized democracy?”
Elections are scheduled for April of next year, and American and European officials say privately that billions of dollars of aid on which Afghanistan depends would be jeopardized if the vote does not go ahead.
That message has been conveyed to Mr. Karzai, the officials have said, and the Afghan leader has repeatedly sought to dispel talk that he would try to find a way to stay on beyond his constitutionally mandated two terms.
But the rumors have persisted, fueled in part by the reticence of possible contenders to declare their interest in running.
To do so, Afghan politicians and analysts say, would be to acknowledge that Mr. Karzai is a lame duck. With government power highly centralized around the president — he appoints everyone from ministers to district governors, for instance — few top officials are willing to risk angering him by openly campaigning to fill his job.
Something tells me, though, that whoever replaces Karzai will be someone that he has significant influence over. This man isn’t simply going to fade away into retirement.