Watch part two
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has requested that national elections, which were due to take place in August, be brought forward to April so as to be in line with the constitution.
The request has put him at odds with the country's Independent Election Commission (IEC) and with his Western backers, who see a meaningful early poll as almost impossible.
The IEC has said it will respond to Karzai's request on Thursday but will not be swayed by him, or any other presidential candidate.
Inside Story asks: Is Karzai respecting the constitutional deadline, as his supporters claim, or is he attempting to gain an unfair advantage, as his opponents suggest?
Our guests today are: Mirwais Yasini, the deputy speaker of the Afghan parliament and one of the candidates running for the upcoming presidential election; Hilary Mann Leverett, a former Afghanistan director for the National Security Council at the White House and State Department, and Hekmat Karzai, the director of the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies in Kabul, Afghanistan.
This episode of Inside Story aired from Tuesday, March 3, 2009.