United Nations officials say Afghan factions meeting near Bonn, Germany, continue to try to reach an accord on who will become part of the interim legislature and administration they have agreed to create by the end of the week. But the conference has become concerned about the unity of the Northern Alliance, the biggest and most powerful group in post-Taleban Afghanistan.
The alarm-bell rang early Friday, when the U.N. disclosed that Haji Abdul Qadir, an important provincial governor and one of the few ethnic Pashtuns in the Northern Alliance, walked out of the conference after quarreling with other members of his delegation. Mr. Qadir later said in an interview with VOA's Pashto service that he had quit the conference because Pashtuns, Afghanistan's biggest ethnic group, were not adequately represented at the talks.
The U.N. said, although it was sorry to see him go, his departure would not affect the talks.
A second snag indicating growing difficulties within the Northern Alliance occurred when the group's nominal head, Burhanuddin Rabbani, complained his delegation at the talks had been pressured into agreeing to name members of the interim bodies all four groups have agreed to set up. Mr. Rabbani said in Kabul that delegates to the interim legislative council should be chosen in Afghanistan and not in Germany.
U.N. spokesman Ahmad Fawzi has said the U.N. expects Northern Alliance leaders in Kabul to abide by any agreement that is reached in Germany. "We have Mr. Rabbani's word that he will respect whatever comes out of the Bonn talks. And, once the Bonn agreement is concluded, we have been assured by the head of the delegation here, Younus Qanooni, that he will take it home to Kabul and implement it," he said.
The U.N. has said it still is aiming for a deal on the interim executive and legislative bodies by late Saturday. But even that process may have become bogged down, because the four groups have not been able to agree on who should belong to each of those entities.
"The focus has been mostly on the structure, the composition, the formation of the interim authority, both the interim supreme council and the interim administration. And finding the right people to sit on these councils and run the country in an interim administration has not been an easy task. There's unanimity on a few things, like the need to create a new government to take over in Kabul, but there still isn't consensus on who these people should be," he said.
The U.N. spokesman has described the process as inching forward toward an agreement. But a European diplomat observing the talks says they may have hit another snag. He aid the Northern Alliance delegation is hinting it needs more time to consult its Kabul headquarters on the people it should nominate for posts in the interim government. That would affect the U.N.'s deadline for the talks to end, and raise even more questions about the Northern Alliance's cohesion.