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Sunday, December 21, 2003

Afghan deadlock weakens Karzai

As warlords squabble, violence is on the rise

James Astill in Islamabad
Sunday December 21, 2003
The Observer

It was supposed to be a triumph, a Grand Council to usher in Afghanistan's first ever elections next year. But when Malalai Joya, a delegate from western Farah province, stepped up to speak last week, she was not celebrating.

With a steady hand, Joya pointed to the council leaders, or 'Loya Jirga', Afghanistan's new rulers since the Taliban's demise. 'These were the ones who destroyed our country,' she said. 'They should be tried in international and national courts. If our poor people forgive these criminals, history will never forgive them, their criminal activities have all been recorded.'

At Joya's outburst, there was uproar. Many of the council's 500 delegates screamed abuse at her, her microphone was switched off. A security guard bundled her away. None denied the truth of her words, not even the war crimes she spoke of, including the murder of six of her relatives in a rocket attack on Kabul.

'In order to make her secure, I told her to get out of the tent,' explained the council's chairman Sibghatullah Mojaddidi. 'As you know, our Mujahideen are a different kind of people. Once they get upset, it's difficult to control them.'

President Hamid Karzai knows that. The government he was bequeathed nearly two years ago is barely functioning, its members constantly squabbling for control. The 500 delegates of the Loya Jirga - politicians, businessmen and mullahs - are deadlocked over the new constitution. Nearly half the delegates are threatening sabotage if it is not rewritten. Most contentious is a last-minute revision scrapping a proposed Prime Ministership, to give Karzai almost unrivalled powers. The warlords, led by Burhanuddin Rabbani, want to install one of their own as Prime Minister

Someone has to protect their herion business.

posted by Steve @ 1:01:00 PM

1:01:00 PM

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