KABUL (AFP) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday presidential elections would go ahead on August 20 and called for a "national consensus" to decide on who should rule the country after his term ends in May. Karzai, under huge pressure from the United Nations, the United States and other Afghan allies to support the August date set by the election commission, caused a stir last week when he called for an April ballot. But on Saturday the president told a press conference he accepted the election commission's decision. "I accept the decision of the election commission... and I call on all sides to respect the decision and allow the commission to do their job," he said. Karzai's political opponents, including several potential candidates, have called on him to hand over power to an interim administration when his term ends, particularly if he decides to stand for a second term in office. But on Saturday he dismissed the demand, instead calling for a "national consensus" on who should rule. "I want legitimate government, whether I'm a candidate or not. That legitimacy comes from the constitution, or going to the people's will," he said. "I'm ready for both, ready for (implementing) the constitution and ready for a national consensus," he added, without giving further details. The president initially said he objected to the August date because his five-year term expires on May 21 and the constitution states that the vote must be held 30 to 60 days before that date. But the commission said staging elections in a matter of weeks was impossible given the overwhelming security problems in the insurgency-wracked country. In January, the election commission delayed the vote until August, saying it needed the time to prepare and also wanted Nato military reinforcements on the ground to help secure the polls from Taliban attack. The United States recently announced the deployment of 17,000 extra troops, mainly to the south where the insurgency is at its worst, but those soldiers are unlikely to be fully in place until July, under current planning. Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer asked in January for the Alliance to provide 10,000 extra troops for the election. Karzai, who won a 55 percent majority in 2004 presidential polls, but whose popularity has been severely damaged by his failure to check rising violence and corruption levels, indicated he would like to serve a second term. But he said he would only do so if he could be a force for greater stability in Afghanistan, where the Taliban insurgency has intensified over the past two years, despite the presence of about 70,000 international soldiers. The vote will be the country's second ever-presidential election to be conducted under universal suffrage. There is hot debate on the legitimacy of any power Karzai may hold between May and August. The opposition has called for the creation of an interim administration, but some analysts have suggested that declaring a state of emergency is a better solution.