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Rockets Hit Kabul as Afghan Assembly Debates Draft Constitution - 2003-12-16

An overnight rocket attack shook the Afghan capital, Kabul, where delegates to a constitutional assembly, or loya jirga, are debating a draft constitution expected to lead to national elections.

Security officials say at least two rockets hit the city early Tuesday morning, causing some damage to one house, but no casualties.

The attack came hours before some 500 delegates - more than 100 of them women - are to resume their meeting for a third day held under extremely tight security.

International peacekeepers have warned that Taleban insurgents might try to disrupt the meeting.

Delegates are debating, among other issues, whether post-Taleban Afghanistan will have a presidential or parliamentary system of government. Interim President Karzai says he favors the presidential system, which concentrates most state powers in the hands of a single, strong president.

Another major item on the agenda is the role of Islam in the new constitution.

The elected chair of the constitution assembly, moderate tribal leader Sabghatullah Mujadidi, says the country should seek a more moderate form of Islam, rather than the strict interpretation of Afghanistan's former Taleban rulers.

On Monday, the delegates voted for a deputy chair of the traditional assembly. The voting drew protests from some women delegates, who complained they were being excluded from leadership positions. In a compromise move, one female delegate was granted one of two deputy chair positions, and two others were named to staff positions.

A draft constitution prepared by the country's transitional government and unveiled last month also outlines a government headed by a strong president.