On Saturday, December 22, power in Afghanistan will be passed from Burhanuddin Rabbani, President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, to Hamid Karzai, chief of the provisional administration. In line with the decisions of the Bonn conference on Afghanistan, held in late November-early December, the Karzai provisional government will be made up of 30 members. His six-months-duration Cabinet will include 11 Pashtuns, 8 Tajiks, 5 Hazaras, 3 Uzbeks and 3 representations of other ethnic minorities. The only woman in the new Cabinet will hold the post of minister for women's affairs. Six months later a traditional all-Afghan assembly of elders and representatives of tribes and ethnic groups from all regions of Afghanistan, Loya Jirgah, will be convened. It will gather between 700 and 1,000 candidates. Loya Jirgah will establish composition for another transitional government, designed to carry on for another 18 months, and will also appoint members of the transitional paarliament and constitutional council, which will be instructed to draw up a new constitution for Afghanistan. After these 18 months Loya Jirgah will have to be gathered anew and adopt a constitution, announce elections to a standing parliament. The RIA Novosti correspondent reports from Kabul that everything is ready in the Afghan capital for staging the official power-passing ceremony. In top secrecy members of the future Cabinet of the provisional administration have arrived, or are still arriving in Kabul. The ceremony will take place in the presidential palace and take about two hours. Several speeches will be delivered, sermons served and some suras from the Koran read out. After that Lahdar Brahimi, special envoy of the United Nations secretary general, who chaired the Bonn meeting on Afghanistan, will take the floor. Hamid Karzai will deliver a brief speech before being put to oath.
Russia may terminate all kinds of military and military-technical relations with Israel, including the agreement on the exchange of reconnaissance data
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea