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Bickering continues over Afghanistan's interim government - 2001-12-06


Bickering continues over the composition of Afghanistan's interim government.

Four Afghan factions had agreed Wednesday -- after days of intense negotiations in Bonn -- on a transitional government to be headed by ethnic Pashtun leader Hamid Karzai. World leaders, including President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, praised the agreement.

But two powerful anti-Taleban leaders have voiced reservations about the power-sharing arrangement.

Ethnic Uzbek leader General Abdul Rashid Dostum says his faction did not get a fair representation in the new administration, and that he may boycott the interim government. The Dostum faction reportedly wanted the foreign ministry in the new cabinet. Instead, it got two lesser positions -- the ministries of agriculture and mining and industries.

The leader of the Pakistan-based Peshawar Group -- Pir Sayed Ahmed Gailani -- also has complained that the Bonn deal is not balanced.

The royalist Afghan spiritual leader says he remains hopeful that a grand assembly of Afghan leaders (Loya Jirga) will be able to appoint a more balanced government six months later.

Mr. Karzai's six-month transitional government will include 29 members from Afghanistan's major ethnic groups and political factions -- and women. The interim cabinet will run Afghanistan until the assembly of traditional chiefs (or Loya Jirga) is called to appoint an 18-month government that will work to set the stage for election within two years.

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