Afghanistan: Karzai asks for new date for presidential election

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday backed off plans for an August election and asked the country's electoral commission to set a new date after lawmakers said they would not recognize Karzai as president after May 22. The brief statement from Karzai's office offered no new date for a presidential vote, but said the election commission should follow the Afghan constitution, which calls for elections to be held 30 to 60 days before May 22, the expiration of Karzai's five-year term. The commission in January said the presidential election would be held Aug. 20, but many members of parliament have said Karzai would be an illegitimate president after May 22 and that an August vote was not acceptable. However, international monitors have said it would be difficult if not impossible to hold valid elections during the March-April timeframe because of security concerns, bad weather and logistical issues like the distribution of ballots.