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Afghanistan: Karzai Satisfied With Work Of Loya Jirga

Kabul, 20 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan leader Hamid Karzai (pictured) said today delegates at the Constitutional Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, debating Afghanistan's new draft constitution had made good progress during their first days of work. Today marks the seventh day of the loya jirga attended by some 500 delegates. After several days of arguments on procedure, on 18 December delegates broke up into groups of 50 to argue the draft article by article.

Karzai said he hoped the loya jirga will finish its work by the end of the year as planned. But if not, he said, the assembly could take "as much time as it needs".

The draft constitution calls for a moderate Islamic state with a strong presidency. Contentious debate has been reported on issues such as women's rights, the role of Islam in society, and the balance of power in a future government.