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 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 17:32 GMT
Karzai vows to pursue reforms
Hamid Karzai, left, arrives for talks with Italian Senate president Marcello Pera
Mr Karzai meets Italian Senate president Marcello Pera
A conference on rebuilding Afghanistan's justice system began on Thursday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai saying the country's warlords would not stand in the way of reform.

Mr Karzai jointly opened the two-day international conference in Rome with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

Afghanistan should have an independent judicial system with equal access for all Afghans

Hamid Karzai

''I do not consider these so-called local authorities to be an obstacle in the way of reform,'' Mr Karzai said of the warlords who still hold sway in parts of the country.

He said Afghanistan ''should have an independent judicial system with equal access for all Afghans, without any bias towards any Afghan''.

The conference has drawn high-level delegations from around 30 nations, as well as Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special envoy to Afghanistan, and the president of Afghanistan's supreme court, Abdol Hadi Shinwari.

Donor forum

Mr Karzai said other reforms in the ''army, police and administration'' were already underway.

''If the other reforms go successfully, and the monetary reform has gone successfully as well, we foresee no formidable challenge."

Afghan police trainee
Afghan police receive forensic training in Kabul

Mr Karzai had travelled to Rome from Oslo, where he had been attending a meeting of donor countries who have pledged more than $1 billion in economic aid for reconstruction in Afghanistan.

BBC correspondent in Rome, David Willey, says the challenge that Afghanistan now faces is to reconcile different aims as it tries to rebuild democratic institutions.

Our correspondent says Mr Karzai has made it clear that Afghanistan, a predominantly Muslim society, intends to maintain Sharia law, while at the same time establishing pluralistic democracy and an independent judiciary.


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18 Dec 02 | South Asia
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