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Debate Over Afghan Interim Legislature Put on Hold - 2002-06-17

Afghanistan's grand elective council, the Loya Jirga, is back in session, following a day of spirited, sometimes-raucous debate over a new interim legislature. But the issue suddenly disappeared from the agenda, when the council resumed Monday.

Loya Jirga delegates came back Monday, expecting to resume discussion about the creation of an interim legislature. But Loya Jirga Chairman Ismail Qassimayar put debate about the interim legislature on hold. He told delegates discussion on that matter would have to wait until interim President Hamid Karzai appears before the council to present his own proposals. The microphone was then turned over to issues of local interest.

A dispute has arisen over the allocation of seats in the legislature, whether each province would have two representatives or if there should be one representative for every 10 of the more than 1,600 delegates.

When the matter was presented Sunday, angry delegates crowded the chairman's platform and hurled shouts and insults at each other.

Mr. Qassimyar said Mr. Karzai would appear before the Loya Jirga Monday afternoon. But sources close to the president say, because of intense ongoing negotiations on what was termed "sensitive issues," he may not appear until Tuesday.