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Karzai Inauguration Takes Place Amid Tight Security


Larry James is in Kabul, where he attended the swearing in ceremony for the new interim government. He tells VOA News Now's Kent Klein that security was tight in the capital, as Hamid Karzai was sworn in as chairman of a new 30-member multi-ethnic administration.

Q. Larry, tell us a little bit, if you will, about the atmosphere, as this inauguration took place.

A. " Kent, I'm standing outside the Interior Ministry auditorium, where the swearing in ceremony took place. It was a very crowded auditorium, full of Mujahedin and political leaders, from all the various ethnic groups. The stage was crowded, with not only the 30 ministers who are going to be sworn in, but a number of dignitaries, including special UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, and his deputy, Francesc Vendrell.

Probably the highlight came after Mr. Karzai was sworn in. He stopped to shake hands with Burhanuddin Rabbani, the outgoing president, the last man recognized by the international community as head of government in Afghanistan. The two of them embraced warmly on the center of the stage, to loud applause throughout the auditorium.

Others who attended included ... Abdul Rashid Dostum, the head of the militia that controls a lot of Northern Afghanistan. There was applause that interrupted the ceremony on several occasions, and it was generally everything that the international community had hoped for, at least in terms of how the ceremony went."

Q. Now, Larry, we know this 30-member administration will run the country for six months. What happens then?

A. "After the interim period, a loya jirga is convened - that's a council of the tribal elders - and they will put together clients for the next step, which is the creation of a two-year government that will run until general elections can be held. There's a very long way to go here. The people in Afghanistan, I would say, are very optimistic that this will happen and are very much looking forward to whatever may come in the future, and, right at this moment, they are very optimistic."