Delegates in Afghanistan consider draft version of national constitution – UN

29 December 2003

In another step towards democracy, delegates to Afghanistan’s representative assembly today received a revised draft of the constitution, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA).

The text, which has been the subject of broad public consultations involving tens of thousands of Afghan citizens including a significant number of women, was circulated during this morning’s plenary session of the Constitutional Loya Jirga, a meeting in Kabul of delegates from across Afghanistan.

The basic draft constitution would establish a president with significant powers and a bicameral legislature with a minimum quota for women members assured. Respect for fundamental human rights are codified in the text, which also calls for the laws of the nation to conform with the principles of Islam. The new version includes changes approved by the Loya Jirga’s reconciliation committee, which met after discussions among 10 working groups.

Any proposed amendments to the new draft must have the support of at least 151 of the 500 delegates to the Loya Jirga. A secret ballot is due to be held tomorrow morning to vote on any amendments.

In another positive development, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) released preliminary findings of its national risk and vulnerability assessment showing that food security has improved for Afghanistan’s rural population.

While welcome, this represents small progress in a country beset by years of drought and war. The study indicates that 3.2 million of the 16 million rural Afghans will not be able to meet most of their minimum food requirements. A WFP spokesman pledged that the agency would concentrate its food assistance programmes on helping those living in the countryside.

 

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