Afghanistan approves law on formation of political parties
* Five Afghan troops killed in Taliban ambush
* US confirms 124 Taliban deaths in Zabul
KABUL: Afghanistan moved one step further along the road to democracy Monday after the cabinet approved a law allowing political parties to form, President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman said.
“Today in the session of the ministers, the party law was discussed and was approved by the cabinet. It will be issued by a presidential decree,” Jawed Ludin told reporters. He did not say when the decree would be issued.
While several political parties have emerged in post-Taliban Afghanistan, the government has not officially recognised their existence as there was no law providing for parties in the 1964 constitution now in use. A new constitution is set to be approved in December.
Without the law Afghanistan cannot establish itself as a democratic multi-party state, Ludin said, with presidential elections slated for June next year. “All criteria of a democratic and pluralistic society have been taken into consideration as well as traditions and Islamic laws and values,” he said.
Political groups and factions are jockeying for position ahead of the polls; former anti-Soviet mujahedin fighters alone have formed seven parties already.
Members of the communist parties that ruled in the 1980s under the Soviet invasion and until the 1992 overthrow of communist president Najibullah by the mujahedin, reemerged last month in a new National United Party. Their move, however, fell afoul of Islamic groups and Justice Minister Rahim Karimi, who said only Afghans who believed in God had the right to form or join political parties.
Meanwhile, suspected Taliban insurgents ambushed government troops traveling through a mountain gorge in southern Afghanistan, killing five soldiers and injuring five others, an Afghan military commander said on Monday.
The troops, riding in a pickup truck, were on a security patrol in Kighai Gorge when attackers opened fire on them late Sunday, said Haji Granai, a military commander in Kandahar, capital of the southern Kandahar province. He blamed Taliban fighters for the attack. “This is a mountainous area. Taliban are hiding there,” Granai said.
Two US soldiers were wounded in weekend clashes with suspected Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, the US military said Monday, as its troops hunted militants fleeing the biggest anti-Taliban offensives in more than a year. The US military also confirmed reports from Afghan officials that 124 militants had been killedin nine-days operation in Zabul province. —Agencies