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Friday, 7 June, 2002, 22:26 GMT 23:26 UK
Afghanistan's loya jirga
Loya Jirga candidate gestures
The assembly will bring together disparate groups
The first post-Taleban national assembly in Afghanistan, the loya jirga, is to convene in a giant tent in the grounds of Kabul Polytechnic on Monday, 10 June, and last until 16 June.

The various anti-Taleban factions agreed on procedures to convene the loya jirga at a conference in Bonn in December 2001.

The aim of the loya jirga is to back an interim government to run Afghanistan until free and fair elections promised in 2004.


The loya jirga is based on traditional Afghan tribal and national gatherings, such as have approved major constitutional change in the past. It is to be partly elected and partly nominated.

Changes boost women, refugees, clergy and tribal people.

Ismail Qasemyar, loya jirga official

The chairman of the commission for the convocation of the loya jirga, Ismail Qasemyar, said initially that 1,500 delegates would take part, of whom 1,051 would be elected through the ballot box.

The remaining 449 delegates would be appointed by social, cultural and religious foundations.

The outgoing interim administration of Hamid Karzai, which is due to leave office on 22 June, has been given 53 seats.

The allocation of seats has varied since the original declaration in March.

On 6 June the commission decided to add an extra 50 nominated seats to ensure regional governors and local powerbrokers are included.

This brings the total to about 2,000.

Northern commander Abdul Rashid Dostum and Kabul Governor Mullah Taj Mohammad have already been chosen, and Herat Governor Ismail Khan is also expected to be a delegate.

On 20 May Mr Qasemyar announced some changes to the allocation of seats, broadly increasing representation of women, refugees outside Iran and Pakistan, Muslim clergy and "tribal people", and boosting under-represented population areas at the expense of sparsely-inhabited districts.

He also said this would increase the number of elected as opposed to nominated delegates.


No comprehensive breakdown of seats has been given. Following the latest changes, the approximate breakdown will be:

Afghan woman votes for Loya Jirga candidates
Afghan women will be represented

  • 160 for women

  • 25 for nomads and six for internally displaced people

    70 for Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan and 30 for Afghan refugees in other countries

  • 114 for academic and cultural institutions, and social organisations

  • 26 for religious scholars and other leading personalities in Afghan society

  • Four for religious minorities - two for Sikhs and two for Hindus.


The election of delegates is taking place in two stages. People will elect 20 delegates by district, and these 20 will then elect the delegate to go to the loya jirga.

The process has gone extraordinarily well

Hamid Karzai, interim leader

There have been extensive reports of abuses, with eight candidates killed by unknown assailants and others detained by local warlords.

There are also fears that pro-Taleban elements might try to disrupt voting and intimidate candidates, especially in Kandahar and Zabul provinces.

No organisation, including the Taleban, is formally excluded from the election process, but there is a specific ban on anyone who has been involved in human rights abuses or war crimes.

The Human Rights Watch organisation has already complained that this has not been honoured, and interim leader Mr Karzai responded on 6 June by appointing a Human Rights Commission.

The same day, Mr Karzai acknowledged that there had been intimidation but he expressed the view that about half of the delegates would be genuine representatives of the people, and that the process had gone "extraordinarily well" given the circumstances.

The Berlin agreements provide for commissions to supervise the elections, and these have been set up in the cities of Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat, Gardez, Konduz, Bamian and Ghazni.

Each commission will consist of scholars, "neutral and benevolent people", two members of the commission for the convocation of the loya jirga, UN representatives and international observers. The latter will only observe.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


Political uncertainty






See also:

06 Jun 02 | South Asia
15 Apr 02 | South Asia
27 Sep 01 | South Asia
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