'Exhausted' Karzai to retire in 2012

2013-05-22 12:02
Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrives for a meeting with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India. (Manish Swarup, AP)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrives for a meeting with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India. (Manish Swarup, AP)

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New Delhi - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday that he was "exhausted" and wanted to retire from politics at the end of his current term.

Afghanistan is set to hold elections for a new president in April 2014. Karzai has been in office since 2001, after the US-led invasion ousted the Taliban.

When asked whether he would run again in next year's election, the 55-year-old president said: "Why would I ruin my legacy by staying on?"

"No circumstances should allow me to stay president [after 2014]. And I will not allow it to happen," Karzai told journalists in the Indian capital New Delhi during his two-day visit.

Constitutionally, he is not allowed to run for a third time, but his detractors have accused him of wanting to extend his time in power.

Next year will also see the withdrawal of all Nato combat forces from Afghanistan, which Karzai lauded as "good for Afghans".

Fears of continued terrorism

"We believe there will be more stability in Afghanistan when they leave. We believe there will be more peace."

Karzai addressed concerns that Afghanistan might suffer as Iraq did from an increase in violence after the departure of foreign troops.

"We are pained to see Iraq suffer. I can tell you with a strong measure of confidence that Afghanistan will not see that," he said.

"But we do fear the continuation of terrorism as it has been affecting us for years now," he said.

Karzai repeated his view that the "war on terror" was being fought in the wrong place, suggesting that the Taliban was operating mainly from safe havens across the border in Pakistan.

He said Afghan officials were in "contact" with the Taliban for possible peace talks.

But he added that a "meaningful" peace process was dependent on cooperation by Pakistan.

Read more on:    nato  |  hamid karzai  |  afghanistan

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