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UN sends mission to prevent collapse of Karzai regime - Independent, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    UN sends mission to prevent collapse of Karzai regime By Katherine Butler 03 November 2003 http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/story.jsp?story=459930 The
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2003
      UN sends mission to prevent collapse of Karzai regime
      By Katherine Butler
      03 November 2003


      The UN Security Council sent a high-ranking delegation
      to Afghanistan yesterday to bolster the country's
      leader, Hamid Karzai, amid signs that his authority is
      steadily slipping to powerful warlords and warnings
      that an opium boom could turn Afghanistan into a
      failed state run by drug cartels.

      The delegation, including the UN ambassadors of the
      United States, Britain, France, Mexico, Spain and
      Bulgaria, are aiming to demonstrate the international
      community's commitment to rebuilding the country, said
      the head of the mission, Germany's UN ambassador
      Gunter Pleuger.

      The ambassadors are to visit Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif,
      he said, to pressure powerful regional warlords "to
      co-operate fully with the central government" so
      elections next year can be held in a climate of
      stability. "We will speak to the local warlords and
      call to their attention the responsibility for the
      whole country demanded from them, that they work
      together with the central government, economically,
      politically and above all for security," he said.

      But even as he spoke, there were reports of further
      violence. Two civilians were killed in clashes between
      rival militias. And there were unconfirmed reports
      that eight villagers had died in an airstrike on a
      remote eastern village. The strike hit a house
      belonging to Mawlawi Rabbani, a prominent local cleric
      who is said to have co-operated with the US-led

      The finishing touches are being put to the country's
      first post-Taliban constitution. The terms of the
      document are to be debated at a constitutional
      convention next month. The draft document could be
      released within days.

      But prospects of a smooth transition to democracy are
      bleak, with much of Afghan-istan still ruled by
      competing warlords and their private armies. Last
      month, the Security Council approved an expansion of
      the 5,500-member Nato-led military force outside the
      capital. A German advance team is preparing for the
      arrival of a 450-strong mission in the northern city
      of Kunduz. But no country has yet volunteered troops
      for an expanded mission to other parts of Afghanistan
      where the risk would be considerably higher.

      More than 350 people have been killed across
      Afghanistan in the past three months, the worst period
      for violent deaths since the Taliban's collapse.
      Civilians, US soldiers, Afghan troops, police and
      local aid workers have been targeted.

      The UN delegation will avoid Kandahar, the former
      Taliban stronghold, because of the unrest. Pashtun
      leaders from that region will travel to Kabul to voice
      their views to the ambassadors.

      Taliban insurgents in Kandahar threatened to kill a
      kidnapped Turkish engineer yesterday unless the
      authorities release 18 Taliban prisoners. The
      engineer, Hasan Onal, had been returning to a camp for
      workers repairing the Kabul to Kandahar highway.

      Tension is also high around Mazar-i-Sharif, between
      the Uzbek leader General Abdul Rashid Dostum and his
      Tajik rival, General Atta Mohammed. They were key
      figures in the Northern Alliance that worked with the
      American-led coalition to invade and oust the Taliban
      from power in late 2001.

      A military clash between the two factions last month
      led to 60 deaths. In more recent clashes, at least
      three soldiers and two civilians have died.

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