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Broad Outline of Afghan Government Accepted - 2001-12-04

U.N.-sponsored talks on the future of Afghanistan have found agreement on the shape of a future interim government. But the delegates still have to agree on who will run the country.

The broad outline of how Afghanistan is to be ruled for the next six months has been accepted.

Delegates at the talks outside Bonn have reportedly accepted a plan to put in place a 29-member interim government. The new body is to be in place in the Afghan capital, Kabul, as soon as possible and replace the Northern Alliance, which is ruling the city.

The interim government will serve for up to six months until a council of tribal and provincial leaders, known as a loya jirga, can be called to agree on a new executive and legislature. That will be in place for up to two years, giving Afghans time to draw up a new constitution, ratify it, and establish new elections.

But the composition of that interim team is still to be determined. That means a chairman, five vice chairmen, and the 23 other members have to be selected before the process moves any further.

One contender for chairman is Pashtun ethnic leader Hamid Karzai. But another possible candidates include Pashtun cleric Sayed Ahmed Gailini and Abdul Sattar Sirat, the leader of the delegation representing the former king.

One obstacle to a decision appears to have been removed after German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer telephoned Afghanistan's acting president, Burhannudin Rabbani in Kabul.

According to German reports, Mr. Rabbani had been unwilling to complete the process in Bonn, insisting that the Northern Alliance delegation return to Kabul for consultations before presenting its candidate list for the interim government. But after talking with Foreign Minister Fischer, Mr. Rabbani agreed to allow the Northern Alliance delegation to present its list. Without that list, all discussions would have been fruitless.