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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 14:27 GMT
Q&A: Afghan deal
With the signing of a deal to create a transitional government for Afghanistan, BBC News Online answers key questions about the Bonn agreement.

What has been decided?

The two-stage deal initially creates an interim 30-member council headed by Pastun tribal leader Hamid Karzai to be set up in Kabul on 22 December.

The Northern Alliance, which controls Kabul, will hold the three most powerful ministries within the body.

Phase two will see a transitional government put in place. Its make-up will be decided by a Loya Jirga - a meeting of Afghan tribal leaders.

This will then rule for about two years until a constitution can be agreed and elections held.

The UN is also to draw up plans to send a multi-national peacekeeping force to Afghanistan to ensure security.

It also says the new authority must guarantee freedom of expression and women's rights.

What remains unresolved?

On Day Four Abdul Qadir, representing the country's majority Pashtun population, pulled out of the talks angry at the lack of what he felt was proper Pashtun representation.

This is an issue some analysts believe could return to haunt the interim council.

Despite being headed by Pashtun tribal leader Hamid Karzai, the council is dominated by the Northern Alliance, which does not contain significant Pashtun elements.

In addition, the roles of two major players - former King Zahir Shah and former President Burhanuddin Rabbani - have not yet been decided.

Doubts also remain about the timetable for putting a peacekeeping force into place.

The Northern Alliance has accepted the need for such a force as part of the overall package - but not for now. Washington also wants to conclude its military operation against remaining al-Qaeda and Taleban forces.

Some commentators also fear that remaining Taleban and al-Qaeda forces may retreat to the mountains and continue fighting, thwarting hopes for long-term peace.

Others believe that moderate Taleban elements should have been included in the Bonn talks.

One of the tasks facing the transitional government, which will succeed the interim council, will also be to draw up a constitution and organise elections - no easy feat in a country as ethnically mixed and scarred by division as Afghanistan.

What happens if the deal does not stick

There are concerns that Afghanistan would return to a fragmented nation with areas controlled by local warlords.

It is also possible that the Taleban could stage a comeback in some places.

Are there any outstanding problems on the ground?

At present the diplomacy is running ahead of the military action - the Taleban have yet to be defeated and Osama Bin Laden is still at large.

Meanwhile, the Taleban still control their stronghold of Kandahar.

There are also millions of displaced Afghans living in refugee camps. Winter has arrived and conditions are deteriorating

Now that the Bonn deal has been signed, international aid will begin to flow in. That was a powerful incentive for people to compromise in the talks, but delivering enough aid remains a tough task.

After decades of war, Afghanistan's infrastructure lies in ruins. The country needs a massive reconstruction programme to be put into place.


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