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Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 14:53 GMT
Afghan factions sign landmark deal
Conference delegates
The signing came after nine days of negotiation
Delegates from four Afghan factions have signed an agreement on a transitional government to run the country after 20 years of war.


The eyes of the world will be on you and you carry a huge responsibility

UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi
After the signing, United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi welcomed the agreement, saying the international community would stand by Afghanistan.

"The UN and the entire international community feel a tremendous sense of hope in the knowledge that agreement has been signed here in Bonn," he said.

But he warned that the new government carried a "huge responsibility" and the eyes of the world would be upon it.

"You must live up to your commitment to promote national reconciliation, protect human rights, encourage relations with your neighbours. You must serve your people in a democratic and transparent manner," he said.

Ahmad Karzai
Karzai: Currently fighting Taleban near Kandahar
The UN-brokered deal came on the ninth day of gruelling talks, the final session of which went on all night, in a luxury hotel in the former West German capital.

The power-sharing council is to be headed by Pashtun tribal commander Hamid Karzai and will take office on 22 December.

BBC correspondents in Kabul say initial reaction amongst people there is one of real delight and relief that the talks appear to have reached a successful conclusion.

Click here for a guide to the main powerbrokers

Contacted by the BBC, Mr Karzai said he was glad to be entrusted with the task of leading his country.

He was talking by satellite phone from north of the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, where his forces are battling the Taleban for control.

He said his main priority was to restore absolute peace and security, and to bring unity to Afghanistan.

"I hope that with God's help we shall take the country forward to a much better future," he said.

In other developments:

  • Two US soldiers are killed and another 20 injured in a botched US bombing raid north of Kandahar
  • Thousands of anti-Taleban fighters prepare to attack a mountain base in eastern Afghanistan where Osama Bin Laden - accused of masterminding the 11 September attacks on the US - is believed to be hiding
  • Anti-Taleban forces in southern Afghanistan withdraw from Kandahar airport after meeting fierce resistance
  • Taleban leaders in the Pakistani city of Peshawar reportedly form a pressure group to urge their spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, to surrender Kandahar
  • The UN calls on Pakistan to lift restrictions that have left 2,000 refugees stranded without food or shelter in a makeshift camp in the no-man's land between Afghanistan and Pakistan

Who gets what?

The Northern Alliance - which has controlled Kabul since the Taleban fled last month - will hold a total of 17 of the 30 cabinet posts, including the three most powerful ministries.

UN blueprint
Interim authority to rule for six months
A supreme court to be set up
A 21-member special independent commission to call a traditional assembly, or Loya Jirga
Loya Jirga to elect transitional government
A multinational force to secure Kabul
Delegation head Yunus Qanooni will be interior minister, alliance commander-in-chief General Mohammad Fahim will be in charge of the Defence Ministry and Dr Abdullah Abdullah will retain the foreign affairs portfolio.

Two women are among those named. One of them, Sima Samar, will be one of Mr Karzai's five vice chairs. The UN has said the new authority must guarantee freedom of expression and women's rights.

King's role

The agreement includes plans to set up a special commission to convene a Loya Jirga, or traditional grand assembly, to be opened by former King Zahir Shah.

Afghan girl holds baby in Kabul cemetery
Afghans need the new government to succeed
The interim administration will rule for six months until this assembly is convened.

The assembly will then elect a transitional government to rule for not more than two years until elections are held.

Another assembly will be set up to adopt a constitution within 18 months of the creation of the transitional authority.

Peacekeepers

The agreement also proposes requesting a multinational peacekeeping force for Kabul, but does not stipulate the force's size or duration.

The force could be progressively expanded to cover urban centres and other areas as appropriate, the text of the agreement says.

The conclusion of the talks is a big fillip for a gathering of major international aid donors taking place in Berlin.

Big donor countries kept up pressure on the Afghan factions by warning them that billions of dollars in reconstruction aid depended on a deal being reached.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's James Robbins
"This is a really remarkable peace agreement"
Deputy UN envoy to Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell
"A historic day"
Interim Afghan premier Hamid Karzai
"Peace and stability for Afghanistan"
Peshawar Group Delegate, Dr Anwar-ul-haq Ahadi
"We were very unhappy about the composition of the cabinet"
See also:

05 Dec 01 | South Asia
At-a-glance guide to Afghan deal
05 Dec 01 | South Asia
Afghans offered 'peace dividend'
04 Dec 01 | South Asia
Afghan women want their voices heard
30 Nov 01 | South Asia
Leading Pashtun quits Afghan talks
25 Nov 01 | South Asia
Rabbani 'still Afghan president'
05 Dec 01 | South Asia
Cautious optimism in Kabul
05 Dec 01 | South Asia
Afghan deal kindles new optimism
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