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Afghanistan: Security Council welcomes successful conclusion of Loya Jirga

Afghanistan: Security Council welcomes successful conclusion of Loya Jirga

The Security Council today welcomed the successful conclusion of the Loya Jirga grand council in Afghanistan and the inauguration of President Hamid Karzai as the head of the country's new transitional administration.

The Council members paid tribute to the Afghan people and their leaders "for such a large and peaceful gathering so soon after the interim administration took office," the President of the 15-member body, Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe of Syria, said in a press statement.

The council also stressed the importance of the work of the UN, particularly Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, and the efforts of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in helping to ensure a secure environment in which the Loya Jirga could take place.

The statement came after the Council was briefed in an open meeting by a senior UN official on the recently concluded Loya Jirga. The meeting was chaired by Farouk Al-Sharra, Syria's Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, told the Council that the nine-day Loya Jirga could be described as a success for three reasons: the fact that it was held at all; that it accomplished what it was mandated to do under the Bonn Agreement, and above all, that Afghans “were able to gather together peacefully, debate heatedly, yet ultimately agree on fundamental questions regarding their common political future.”

Mr. Prendergast also pointed out that an obvious disappointment was the inability of the Loya Jirga to agree to a formula for selecting a legislature. However, overlooked in the highly publicized disputes and bitterness of that issue, was an encouraging reformist vision presented by Mr. Karzai. In his acceptance speech on 13 June, the President had made proposals concerning national commissions on national defence, national security, foreign investment and return of property. His vision included a lean government structure focusing on the people rather than maintaining a heavy bureaucracy.

As for the security situation, Mr. Prendergast noted that it had deteriorated in some parts of Afghanistan and asked the Council "to again consider the possibility of a limited expansion of the International Security Assistance Force to areas outside Kabul."