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