By Jeremy Herb - 10/31/12 02:29 PM EDT
The election is seen as a key step in that transition process, and there are concerns a disputed election could throw the country into greater turmoil and jeopardize its international aid.
Afghan observers were alarmed at Karzai’s comments earlier this month when he suggested that international observers should be removed from the country’s commission that investigates election complaints and fraud.
Nonetheless, Karzai and NATO leaders praised the announcement of the April 5, 2014, election date Wednesday.
Karzai said in a statement he welcomed the announcement and would make preparations with the Independent Election Commission “to ensure a free, fair and inclusive election across the country.”
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the elections were a historic opportunity for Afghanistan and a key point discussed during Rasmussen’s recent visit.
“I welcome the announcement of the date for the 2014 presidential and provincial elections as well as the commitments expressed by Afghan authorities to inclusive, transparent and credible elections,” Rasmussen said in a statement.