Karzai denies rumor he seeks to stay in power after term expires

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KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai denied Thursday that he intends to stay in power by blocking a presidential election set for 2014.

Karzai, who first assumed power in a transitional capacity soon after U.S.-backed Afghan forces drove the radical Islamist Taliban movement from Kabul in November 2001, is barred by the Afghan constitution from running for president again when his second term ends in 2014, a critical year when all foreign combat troops are scheduled to withdraw.

Some Afghan opposition groups and Western analysts say Karzai could cite growing insecurity to block the elections and seek to prolong his stay in office by changing the constitution.

Karzai rejected those suggestions. “Any election, with whatever flaws, is better than an illegitimate government,” he told a news conference.

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