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Friday, 14 June, 2002, 20:29 GMT 21:29 UK
Challenges facing Karzai
Hamid Karzai arriving at the Loya Jirga with aides
Hamid Karzai promises peace, security, and stability

Chairman Karzai has become President Karzai.

At the Bonn conference last December, he was appointed as head of state by the United Nations in consultation with the Northern Alliance and a grouping of Afghan royalists.


Our objective is to take Afghans to a better life, out of this quagmire...Our people want dignity

Hamid Karzai

Now he has been voted in by a huge majority of mainly elected delegates at the loya jirga. He has been given legitimacy and a mandate to rule.

Mr Karzai spoke to delegates at the loya jirga about the honour he felt in receiving their trust, saying that he would serve Afghanistan relentlessly and modestly.

He faces no easy task.

'Peace and stability'

Afghanistan is still ruined by war and suffering from a ravaging three years of drought.

Ex-President Burhanuddin Rabbani
Mr Rabbani's support helped Hamid Karzai

A record number of refugees have returned - over one million in the last four months; many are facing difficulties finding homes and work.

Promised money from international donors has yet to be paid up. Hamid Karzai's rule barely extends outside the capital.

Many of the regions are run like private fiefdoms. And there are still hundreds of Afghan men under arms - private armies loyal to the warlords - some of them in Mr Karzai's current government.

They are men who have committed grave war-crimes and carried out intimidation in the elections to the loya jirga.

'Dignity and honour'

Mr Karzai is a civilian. That is a strength - he has no blood on his hands. But it is also a weakness - he has no armed men of his own and he still needs alliances with the armed factions.

Ex-king Zahir Shah
Zahir Shah's endorsement reduced tension

"First we have to establish peace and stability," he said, "then the justice which Afghans require."

"We love Hamid Karzai," one delegate told me in the big tent, "but not his allies; why could he not rely on the support of the people, rather than the warlords?"

Respect for Mr Karzai is much more widespread than just among the delegates in the loya jirga tent.

"He doesn't put state money in his pocket - unlike our previous leaders," said Sultan in Kabul.

"Under his rule we've had peace after years of death, horror and destruction," said Gul Agha, from Ghazni.

Najiba, from Kabul, said: "He's given us back our dignity and honour in the eyes of the world."


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14 Jun 02 | South Asia
14 Jun 02 | South Asia
13 Jun 02 | South Asia
13 Jun 02 | Country profiles
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