Current Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai has been elected as Afghanistan's new head of state. Representatives from the elective grand council, known as a Loya Jirga, voted overwhelmingly Thursday to keep Mr. Karzai in office for another 18 months. The announcement was greeted by loud applause from the delegates.

With no serious challengers remaining, Hamid Karzai easily won election in the Loya Jirga as president of Afghanistan's next interim administration.

Mr. Karzai has headed Afghanistan's interim government for the last six months.

Appearing before the delegates before the vote, Mr. Karzai gave a kind of "state of Afghanistan" address, in which he outlined his government's achievements. He said people should make a distinction between what he termed mujahedin and warlords, saying that mujahedin defended Afghanistan against the invading Soviet Army, while warlords have destroyed the country.

Mr. Karzai also pledged a clean government and called for an end to corruption. He said if Afghanistan loses this chance, it will never be rebuilt.

Under terms of the agreement negotiated in Bonn, Germany late last year, the new administration has the formidable task of writing a new constitution for Afghanistan and preparing for elections.