A meeting of Afghan elders, Loya Jirga, will take place on Tuesday and not on Monday, as was originally planned. This was announced by Afghanistan's Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. Representatives of the transitional Afghan administration mentioned some technical problems to explain the delay, but observers believe that after former Afghan King Zahir Shah claimed that he was ready to take the highest state position (although he earlier supported Hamid Karzai’s candidacy), there was a split amid the delegates of Loya Jirga.
The former Afghan King says that he does not suggest the return of the monarchy, but he is ready to take any post that the people of Afghanistan might offer him. Zahir Shah will open the session, and then he will be pronounced the father of the nation.
The top positions in the Afghan government is a great attraction, and active talks between tribal representatives have not been successful yet. The conflict between ethnic Tajiks, who have three key positions in the current government (foreign minister, home minister, and defense minister), and the Pashtoons is aggravated by the fact that the candidacy of the would-be prime minister has not been coordinated yet.
There are two major Afghan figures running for the position of premier: ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbani and the incumbent chairman of the transitional government, Hamid Karzai, who enjoys the support of the interim cabinet of ministers as well as of the majority of the provincial chieftains. However, it has recently become known that there is another politician who would not mind taking over as the premier: the former Afghan King.
The monarch is surely old, but this is only a plus in a country where small children are taught to respect elderly people. There are “money-bags” from Europe and Asia behind him together with a large Afghan diaspora all over the world. Therefore, we cannot say that he is a political outsider.
The King’s followers fear that his new role in the government could cause dissatisfaction within the leading group in the incumbent interim government, Shura-I-Nazar. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative to Afghanistan, Lahdar Brahimi, believes that the powerful influence of commanders and army chiefs is a fact that cannot be ignored. The ex-monarch’s ambition is more harmful than good in the current situation, and the Tajiks are ready to support Karzai’s candidacy in the event that they keep their key posts.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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