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Brahimi lays out plan for political transition in Afghanistan

Brahimi lays out plan for political transition in Afghanistan

Amb. Lakhdar Brahimi
The United Nations chief envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, today outlined plans for a political transition in the war-torn country and stressed an urgent need for a UN-convened meeting that would bring together the key players to agree on a framework for the changeover process.

Addressing a high-level meeting of the Security Council, Mr. Brahimi, who is Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for the country, stressed that while there was agreement on the goal of establishing a representative and accountable government in Afghanistan, difficulties were encountered in how to achieve this end. Since time was now of the essence, he said, it was indispensable that the efforts of the various Afghan groups be brought together in a single process.

"[T]he Secretary-General thinks that instead of continuing with the shuttle diplomacy from one group to the other in the various capitals, the need for nimbleness in finding a political solution now requires that the Northern Alliance and the representatives of the existing initiatives should meet with the United Nations as early as humanly possible," the envoy said.

Based on ideas widely discussed by Afghans themselves, Mr. Brahimi said the approach might begin with a UN-convened meeting of representatives of the Northern Alliance and the Rome and Cyprus processes, among others, that would be later complemented with representatives of other groups, to agree on a framework for the process of political transition. The meeting would suggest concrete steps to convene a provisional council, composed of a large and representative group of Afghans and chaired by an individual recognized as a symbol of national unity. Deputy chairmen could conduct day-to-day proceedings.

The council would propose a transitional administration and programme of action for the period of political transition, to last no more than two years, as well as security arrangements, he said. An emergency Loya Jirga would then be convened to approve the proposals and to authorize the transitional administration to prepare a constitution. The transitional phase would result in the convening of second Loya Jirga, which would approve the constitution and create the Government of Afghanistan.

Mr. Brahimi stressed the crucial need to have Afghans constitute their own administration. "Parachuting a large number of international experts into Afghanistan could overwhelm the nascent transitional administration and interfere with the building of local capacity," he said. At the same time, he emphasized the need for a "robust security force able to deter and if possible defeat challenges to its authority."

Options included an all-Afghan security force, a multinational force, or a UN peacekeeping operation. He said the first option was the best, but since it would take time to constitute, serious consideration should be given to deploying an international security presence. He also emphasized that a UN force was not recommended.

Calling attention to the looming humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan, Mr. Brahimi pledged the UN’s commitment to assisting all people in need and urging the international community to support this effort. At the same time, he highlighted the need for significant international resources for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

"The processes being proposed are not perfect," he said. "The provisional institutions, whose creation is suggested, will not include everyone who should be there, and it may include some whose credentials many in Afghanistan have doubt about, but let everyone please remember that what is hopefully to be achieved is the elusive peace the people of Afghanistan have been longing for so long."