New UN-backed peace commission in Afghanistan to help settle local disputes

24 August 2003

The United Nations is backing a peace commission in northern Afghanistan that is bringing together members of different factions in a bid to resolve conflicts without violence, a UN spokesman said today in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The new panel, situated in Faryab Province, includes representatives of area authorities as well as the major factions – Jamiat and Jumbesh – and has already managed to settle a dispute between two of their respective local commanders, according to spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva. “It confirmed that there was no fighting in the area as had allegedly been reported but at the same time succeeded in calming down the situation between the two commanders which could have escalated into something bigger.”

The dispute arose from tensions caused when two commanders were competing for territorial control. “The Commission met with both sides as well as village elders and managed to arbitrate an agreement on territory,” the spokesman reported.

The new Commission will meet weekly to address, mediate and resolve issues that have the potential to degenerate into fighting. “These tensions are generally caused by local commanders who are vying for more power and to extend their territory, control and influence,” Mr. de Almeida e Silva explained. “Conflicts can also erupt over disputes ranging from ownership or theft of livestock to annexation of land, extortion and illegal taxation.”

The spokesman also announced that key factional leaders – Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum of Jumbesh, Gen. Ustad Atta Mohammad of Jamiat and Gen. Sardar Saidi of Hizb-e-Wahdat – are leading a delegation of the Security Commission of the North to continue a voluntary disarmament process in Sholgara. “There will be three collection points for weapons where the three leaders will be positioned to collect arms from their respective factions,” Mr. de Almeida e Silva said.

So far, the process has yielded 112 weapons, including light arms, mortars and heavy machine guns. The Commission also registered 169 small arms that were held by individuals for private purposes.


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