KABUL, March 15 (Xinhua) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday assured Afghans of having a free and fair presidential election which is slated for April 5, saying the security forces were entirely ready to secure the polls.
"The government will use all its power to ensure the coming presidential and provincial council elections are free, fair and transparent. The Afghan National Security Forces will also provide a secure environment for Afghans to take part in the process," Karzai said in his speech in a joint session of Afghan parliament while inaugurating the fourth legislative year of legislation body.
The remarks came days after the Taliban insurgent group termed election as a U.S. trick to continue occupation of Afghanistan and vowed to disrupt the process.
The third presidential and provincial council election is slated for April 5 . Political campaign by presidential candidates officially started on Feb. 2 and will close on April 2 or 48 hours before the Election Day.
Up to 10 contenders registered their name to compete for the country's top slot. One contender, Qaium Karzai, older brother of the president, has withdrawn in favor of Zulmai Rassoul, a former foreign minister.
The last presidential election hold in 2009 was hit by the allegation of fraud and irregularities. Local observers said this year's election is also likely to go for a runoff polls.
The outgoing president noted that the electoral bodies are independent and free of government influence, saying "the independence of the Afghan Independent Election Commission and Independent Electoral Complaint Commission is a vital issue for the future of stability of the Afghanistan."
Defending his government's achievements over the past decade, the Afghan leader noted that the country's economy has been stabilized and the country has a strong security forces.
Karzai also reiterated Afghanistan's stance about security and defense pact with the United States, saying the start of peace talks with the Taliban remains as a precondition to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the United States. "We want the BSA, but peace is fundamental for Afghanistan," he noted.
In part of his address, Karzai said that Afghanistan hopes all foreign combat troops will withdraw from the country as agreed with the United States and NATO, adding the central Asian state will be responsible for its security charges by the end of the year.
Karzai thanked all foreign counties including the United States for their assistance in Afghanistan over the past 13 years.