(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai won’t run in 2014. Actually, he can’t. The flamboyant and often inscrutable leader is barred by his constitution from seeking a third term.
Karzai asserted that there is “no circumstance that will allow me to stay as president” when asked whether he’ll try to get around term limits while on a visit to India Wednesday.
According to the Afghan president, he’s actually ready for retirement after eight grueling years. But even more importantly, Karzai asked rhetorically, “Why would I ruin my legacy by staying on and taking an opportunity away from Afghanistan to become an institutionalized democracy?”
Despite his sometimes puzzling statements about U.S.-Afghan relations, Karzai is a known commodity to the West unlike other potential candidates.
The national elections are set for next April just as U.S. and NATO allies prepare to withdraw most of their military forces from Afghanistan. Washington and Kabul are still trying to hammer out a post-war agreement about what the U.S. role will be in Afghanistan after 2014.
As for how the country will manage without coalition forces to repel foreign and domestic militants, Karzai seemed unperturbed, predicting that Afghanistan is much different from Iraq because there are no sectarian tensions to deal with.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN