Afghan Factions Agree to Form Interim Parliament

Yunis Qanooni, Northern Alliance Interior Minister and representative at the Bonn conference told reporters after emerging from today’s meetings, ”We have agreed with the other delegations… that we will form the supreme interim councils.”

The talks gained momentum after the Northern Alliance dropped its objections to sharing power with the former King Zahir Shah and allowing a multinational peacekeeping force to enter Afghanistan.

“In that case the former king, who is a veteran politician and a national figure, can have a role in the transitional period if approved by the people,” Qanooni said.

Qanooni said that the Northern Alliance agreed to allow multinational security forces into Afghanistan to comply with the wishes the three other factions who prefer foreign peacekeepers to arbitrate security issues.

The Northern Alliance is in control of key cities such as Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif after collaborating with U.S. air strikes.

Qanooni stated that a U.N. security force could occupy Kabul only after an interim government had been established.

“Our official stand is that once a transitional mechanism is established, and the need for international forces is felt, we are not opposed to the arrival of an international force,” Qanooni said to reporters shortly after the meeting.

Yet, as anti-Taliban troops moved closer to Kandahar today, representatives and U.N. delegates became more anxious to broker a power-sharing arrangement for post-Taliban Afghanistan and to avoid total dominance by the Northern Alliance.

“All the factions see the urgency of a handover in Kabul,” Ahmad Fawzi, the United Nations spokesman at the conference, said. “But there is no agreement yet on any of the key questions.”

Fawzi said that all four factions in Bonn should participate in creating a list of 150 to 200 possible candidates for the interim parliament, comprised of a national council, serving as the legislature and the executive body.

The interim parliament would run until March when a loya jirga, or council of elders, would be convened to select a semi-permanent Afghan administration to govern for two years and gradually adopt a more democratic system.

“The parties are very close to moving away from the abyss. It has taken them 22 years to climb that cliff… it can take them one little mistake to slip back into the abyss or one courageous, momentous move forward to create the momentum to rebuild Afghanistan,” Fawzi said, stressing the difficulty of uniting a country torn by civil war for more than two decades.

Working under deadlines agreed to by faction leaders, the delegates must formulate plans for Afghanistan’s post-Taliban security and interim government by the weekend.

The U.N. and other potential donor countries have stipulated an interim government must be established before it provides billions of dollars in reconstruction aid.

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