If he moves up elections, Karzai would have to resign and his first vice president, Mohammad Qasim Fahim, would take over. According to Afghanistan’s constitution, emergency elections would then have to be scheduled within three months.
Waheed Mujda, a Kabul-based political analyst, says that would mean Karzai may be able to push through a candidate he endorses without giving other candidates enough time to prepare for the elections and properly campaign.
“In the 10 years that he has been in power, Karzai has not fostered a real and open political process. The upcoming presidential elections will be as much about tribal and ethnic power as it was 10 years ago,” says Mr. Mujda.
Analysts say that the only way the majority of Afghans, who are Pashtuns, will accept the next leadership is if the next president is a Pashtun from a leading tribe. Karzai was able to hold his own in large part because he is a Pashtun from the southern province of Kandahar.
“A non-Pashtun president may create a roadblock on efforts to reconcile with the Taliban, which is essential to any political and security transition,” says Mujda.
Another complication to elections is that despite the more than 20 major political parties registered in Afghanistan, candidates may have trouble running along party lines.
“Political parties still don’t have strength yet in Afghanistan, and the public doesn’t trust them,” says Azizullah Ludin, chairman of the Afghan government’s anticorruption board and the former president of the independent electoral commission for the 2009 Afghan presidential elections.