29 Sep 2010

Karzai in tears during TV address

7:52 am on 29 September 2010

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has broken down in tears during a speech at a high school, as he lamented the problems plaguing the country.

Mr Karzai was giving a nationally televised address on Tuesday to teachers and pupils in central Kabul, to promote education. The country's literacy rate is about 30%.

The president began crying as he said he wanted Afghans to get an education and be self-sufficient.

Our sons cannot go to school because of bombs and suicide attacks. Our teachers cannot go to school because of clashes and threats of assassination. Schools are closed, he said.

Referring to his three-year-old son, he added:

I want him to go to school here, I swear to God I'm worried, I'm worried, oh people, I'm worried. God forbid Mirwais should be forced to leave Afghanistan.

The BBC reports TV coverage of the speech showed some members of the audience were also crying.

Mr Karzai later named the members of a special council whose task is to start formal negotiations with Taliban insurgents.

Afghanistan is facing its bloodiest year since 2001.

An excerpt from a new book by US journalist Bob Woodward last week cited an intelligence report that the president has been diagnosed with manic depression and was on medication.