Afghan president approves new election law, opens way for transition of power in 2014

Afghanistan's president has approved a new law governing next year's presidential and provincial elections, an important step toward a smooth transition of power in 2014.

Hamid Karzai's office says he signed a decree on Saturday approving the law, which defines the legal framework for the elections and which was approved by parliament earlier this week.

The law is supported by Afghanistan's international sponsors and Karzai's endorsement was widely expected. Last week, the Afghan president approved another law, defining the role and structure of the country's electoral watchdog and election commission.

Afghanistan is to hold elections for a new president and council members for its 34 provinces on April 5.

Karzai, whose second five-year term ends next year, is not allowed by law to seek a third term.