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Last Updated: Monday, 5 December 2005, 18:52 GMT
Call to delay Afghan aid summit

By Andrew North
BBC News, Kabul

Ramazan Bashardost
Mr Bashardost says reconstruction has been a disaster
A major meeting on Afghanistan's future to be held in London in January should be postponed, an Afghan MP has said.

Ramazan Bashardost argues key decisions are being taken before the new parliament has held its first meeting.

The former planning minister was speaking after talks on regional reconstruction aid had ended in Kabul.

MPs were elected in September, with results in November. Parliament is due to sit this month, but may not meet again until winter is over.

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Some newly-elected parliamentarians are concerned that decisions are being taken before the new assembly has a chance to scrutinise them.

Chief among those voicing concerns is Mr Bashardost, now one of Kabul's 33 MPs and a vocal critic of what he says has been widespread corruption and mis-spending of international aid funds for Afghanistan's reconstruction.

MPs not involved

Key decisions on the next stage in this aid effort are being taken now, in the run-up to the London conference on 31 January, where a new "compact" governing international help for Afghanistan for the next five years is due to be agreed.

Mr Karzai can start a dialogue with the Afghan parliament and we can decide together
Ramazan Bashardost

It will commit both sides to so-called "benchmarks" of progress in areas like economic development, tackling the drugs trade and building up the police and judiciary.

Yet although Mr Bashardost and his 248 fellow MPs were elected in September, they are not involved in these discussions, because the parliament has not yet had its first sitting.

It is not due to for another two weeks, on 19 December. And afterwards, it may not meet again until the end of the winter.

Even the December date is not definite, with President Hamid Karzai yet to announce his nominees for 34 places in the parliament's upper house, or Meshrano Jirga.

This could mean a delay to January at the earliest.

By then, most of the key decisions for the London conference, which Mr Karzai and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will attend, are likely to have been made.

'Disaster'

Mr Bashardost says the international approach to rebuilding Afghanistan needs closer scrutiny.

Parliament building in Kabul
The new parliament in Kabul has yet to meet

"It has been a disaster," he says. "There has been no change in the lives of most ordinary Afghan people."

He is calling for the London conference to be delayed, to allow the assembly to be fully involved.

"We can wait one, two or maybe three months. Then Mr Karzai can start a dialogue with the Afghan parliament and we can decide together what to do."

However, Khaleeq Ahmad, a spokesman for President Karzai, rejected the idea of a delay.

He said "some parliamentarians will be invited to come to the London conference to participate".

But he accepted that it is the government that is doing the preparatory work - and that until the new assembly sits it will not be involved.




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