Afghan President Hamid Karzai has surprised many by refusing to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement between his country and the United States that had received cautious approval from tribal leaders and the nation’s elders after a loya jirga meeting in Kabul concluded on Sunday.

In the speech explaining his decision, Karzai said he wants more progress towards a peace agreement with the Taliban and assurances that U.S. soldiers will discontinue their abuse of the Afghan people by ending night raids on homes. Though the U.S. has demanded the deal be signed by the end of this year, Karzai said he wants to wait until after the next presidential elections, sheduled for April.

As the Associated Press reports:

And the Guardian adds: