Karzai denies plan to stay in power, chides U.S. on security assurances
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KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai denied Thursday that he intends to stay in power by blocking a presidential election set for 2014, and he accused NATO and the United States of failing to equip the Afghan armed forces adequately enough to counter cross-border attacks from Pakistan.
Mr. Karzai, who first assumed power in a transitional capacity soon after U.S.-backed Afghan forces drove the radical Islamist Taliban movement from Kabul in November 2001, is barred by the Afghan constitution from running for president again when his second term ends in 2014, a critical year when all foreign combat troops are scheduled to withdraw.
Some Afghan opposition groups and Western analysts say Mr. Karzai could cite growing insecurity to block the elections and seek to prolong his stay in office by changing the constitution. Mr. Karzai rejected those suggestions.
"Any election, with whatever flaws, is better than an illegitimate government," he told a news conference.
"Therefore, elections will be held definitely, 100 percent and on time," he said, adding that no circumstance, insecurity or "foreign propaganda" would prevent them.
Mr. Karzai used the occasion to accuse unspecified Western media outlets of engaging in "psychological warfare" by painting a gloomy picture of Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops, despite international pledges to bankroll the Afghan security forces and provide annual cash aid.
He said he had raised the issue with President Barack Obama during a recent video conference and discussed it with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a meeting in the United States last week. He questioned whether the alleged "psychological warfare" was intended to weaken Afghanistan's hand in security talks with the United States.
First Published October 5, 2012 12:00 am