Life after 9.11 is a NewsHour Extra special report on life in the U.S. immediately after the attacks.
A New Afghanistan
Afghanistan's leaders have elected a familiar face to lead the country. Hamid Karzai, who has been leading the country since the oppressive Taliban regime was forced from power by the U.S. war on terrorism, was elected president in the first free election in Afghanistan's history.
With 1,295 votes counted so far, the former prime minister won in a huge victory over other candidates. Over 1,500 people voted in the election during a meeting of representatives called a loya jirga.
Karzai will hold office until national elections are held in 2003. He recently picked cabinet members that will help him govern for the next 18 months.
Starting from nothing
Unlike most countries, where established political parties compete for public office in organized elections, Afghanistan has several different ethnic tribes and factions with different ideas of what the country's future should look like.
The loya jirga is just beginning to debate the future of this war-torn country.
Back in December 2001, Afghan groups met in Germany and established a temporary Afghan government headed by Hamid Karzai.
To create a more permanent government, the Afghan leaders called for a meeting of tribal elders.
Loya jirga, which means "grand council" in a local language called Pashtun, is a centuries- old traditional meeting of leaders from different tribes and factions to discuss and settle national affairs.
While generally perceived as a most basic forum for representative decision making, the loya jirga is widely viewed as the best chance for Afghanistan to establish a legitimate leadership with a rule of law and prevent the country from slipping into the control of warlords and drug smugglers.
The current loya jirga is planned to end on June 16 and meets in the capital city of Kabul. The goal is for these hundreds of representatives to create a new method of governing the country.
The task at hand
The primary tasks
of the loya jirga is to outline a transitional government.
One of the most delicate questions facing the loya jirga is how to divide power among the the ethnic majority Pashtun tribe and the ethnic minority Tajiks and Uzbeks.
It is expected that the rivaling tribes will compete for control of three pivotal positions in the new administration: the ministries of defense, interior and foreign relations.
Meanwhile, threats of violence from warlords and terrorist groups interested in disrupting and discrediting the loya jirga loom large. Despite the influence of international monitors, some regional leaders called for a boycott of the loya jirga, believing that is unfairly controlled by certain ethnic groups.
If the loya jirga does produce a formal plan for Afghanistan, the government it creates will have much more authority than the current temporary administration. It will also help ensure a more democratic government in the future.
What do you think? How would you help the members of the loya jirga work together? What kind of government would you suggest for Afghanistan and why?
--Contributed by Maureen Hoch and Samara Aberman
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