Afghanistan delays constitutional assembly till Dec
KABUL: The Afghan government has postponed a key assembly designed to adopt a new constitution until December, to allow two more months for public consultation, a spokesman said on Monday.
But presidential spokesman Javid Loodin said the delay to the Constitutional Loya Jirga would not prevent elections being held in June next year, on a timetable laid down in a 2001 Bonn peace agreement after the fall of the Taliban.
The constitution will help define post-Taliban Afghanistan, including its political system, the powers of president and parliament, the role of Islam in the conservative Muslim state and how much power Kabul has over the regions.
The Loya Jirga had been planned for October, but a delay was requested by the commission charged with drawing up the constitution so that it could collect more of the 460,000 questionnaires it has sent out to the public. Loodin said 81,000 completed questionnaires had been received so far.
“The commission was of the view that given more time it could collect more questionnaires and the public consultation would be more complete,” he told a news conference. “There would also be more time to plan for the election of delegates.”
Loodin said President Hamid Karzai had issued a decree on Sunday confirming the Loya Jirga would be held in December.
The Loya Jirga is a traditional Afghan assembly in which elders and tribal leaders meet to make important decisions or settle disputes.
Delegates will be drawn from all over the country to attend the assembly, which will debate a draft drawn up the Constitutional Commission and ratify a final version.
Loodin said the December date was still in line with the timetable laid down in the Bonn accords, which stipulated a new constitution be drawn up before the end of 2003 and at least six months before elections. —Reuters