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Delegates Arriving In Kabul For Loya Jirga - 2002-06-08


Delegates to Afghanistan's grand council of tribal leaders -- the Loya Jirga -- are pouring into Kabul to start choosing the war-torn country's next government.

A huge tent has been erected at Kabul's Polytechnic University to hold the 15-hundred-and-50 delegates, who meet for seven days beginning Monday.

Former Afghan King Mohammad Zahir Shah will inaugurate the grand council Monday morning. Delegates will then focus on electing a new head of state.

After that, the council will work on choosing the form of the new government and filling key ministerial posts. The government is to serve for two years, at which time democratic elections are planned.

Hamid Karzai, head of Afghanistan's interim government, is a strong favorite to continue in a leadership role.

Of the 15-hundred-and-50 delegates, two-thirds were chosen in local elections, with the rest being appointed by interest groups such as professionals and women. U-N special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi acknowleges the selection process has been marred by violence and vote-buying.

But he said that considering Afghanistan's 23 years of conflict, the process has gone relatively well.

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