KABUL - President Hamid Karzai, who has been in the saddle for a decade, said on Thursday that he would not seek a third term to rule the country."Afghanistan's constitution does not allow the president to run for a third time," Karzai said in a statement from the Presidential Palace. He had no intention to run for the presidency for the third time, he said, adding that doing so would not be in the interest of the country.
The statement said Karzai, who became the first elected president of Afghanistan in December 2004 for a five-year term, made the remarks at a meeting with lawmakers. His second tenure began in November 2009 as a result of an election marred by allegations of fraud and wrangling with his Western allies.
The president made the announcement, which came three years ahead of the next presidential vote, in response to "rumours", according to the press release. Supporting another candidate, who is acceptable to all Afghans, would represent a major success for him, Karzai concluded.
On the strategic cooperation deal with the United States, the president reiterated his conditions: legalising foreign forces' stay in the country, preventing the creation of a parallel government and respect for Afghanistan's sovereignty.