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Adoption of New Afghan Constitution Delayed for 2  Months

A senior Afghan official says the adoption of his country's new constitution must be delayed for at least two months, in order to allow time to draft a document acceptable to all Afghans.

Director of the Constitutional Commission secretariat, Farooq Wardak, says Afghanistan needs more time before its draft constitution can be ratified.

The Afghan transitional government had originally planned to hold a grand council, or loya jirga, of leaders from across the country to adopt the document in early October.

But Mr. Wardak now says convening the council must wait until December in order to complete the process of consulting local community leaders on the draft document.

Mr. Wardak told VOA in July that the consultation process holds the key to new a constitution's success and should not be rushed.

"We want to make this constitution to be owned by the people of Afghanistan," he said. "It can only be owned when their views are incorporated. Then they will feel responsibility to implement it and respect it."

The move could, however, jeopardize plans to hold general elections by June of next year, as called for in the international agreement, signed in Bonn, Germany in 2001, which established the current transitional government.

But Barnett Rubin, director of studies for the Center on International Cooperation and a frequent visitor to Afghanistan, thinks the delay is a good idea.

"It could be a wise move in the sense it will give them more time to think things through, to inform people, to make sure that the draft, when it is released, is in very good condition and it isn't rushed out," he said.

Mr. Rubin says the real concern is whether any future constitution will carry respect in Afghanistan unless the country's rampant violence can be reigned in.

"Is it possible to implement a constitution in the situation of today's Afghanistan? And that will require security," he said.

A large swath of the country is plagued by banditry, and many areas are controlled by local warlords who are only nominally obedient to the central government.

Southeastern Afghanistan, meanwhile, has seen recent fierce fighting, pitting government troops and their U.S.-led coalition allies against insurgents from the ousted Taleban regime and the al-Qaida terrorist network.

The guerrilla-style conflict against the Taleban remnants has intensified over the past week, with local media reporting a major engagement in the mountainous Daichopan region, involving hundreds of militants.