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Officials Meeting To Save Afghan Loya Jirga

Kabul, 4 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Delegates to Afghanistan's Consitutional Loya Jirga are reported to have been holding behind the scenes meetings and private talks in a bid to save the meeting from collapse.

The Loya Jirga chairman, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, warned yesterday that the meeting risks being declared a failure unless delegates can overcome their differences and finalize the constitution by today.

The chairman said the meeting had become stalled over "one word" in the proposed text.

Delegates said the problem involved whether the Uzbek language used mainly in northern parts of the country should be recognized officially, alongside Pashto and Dari. A problem was also reported over whether top officials should be allowed to have dual citizenship.

The Loya Jirga has essentially been stalled since 1 January, when more than one-third of the 502 delegates refused to vote on amendments to the draft charter.

Officials said an explosion went off late yesterday not far from the Kabul site where the meeting is being held. No injuries or damage were reported. Police said the blast was believed caused by a rocket.