The top U.N. official in Afghanistan said Friday he will not renew his two-year contract when it expires in March.

Kai Eide, a Norwegian diplomat, said he is not stepping down but has asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to start searching for a replacement.

"I'm not resigning," Eide told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It's a question of telling New York that I'm not renewing my contact."

Eide's tenure was tarnished by allegations from his American deputy, Peter Galbraith, that he was not bullish enough in curbing fraud in the August presidential election. Eide denied the charge and said controversy over the election was not linked to his decision not to renew his contract.

"The election controversy was between Peter Galbraith and the rest of the international community," he said, adding his plan when he took the job was to stay two years, as did his predecessors.

"Kai Eide is sticking to the timetable that he outlined when he took the job in March 2008," Dan McNorton, a U.N. spokesman in Kabul said.