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Rival Leaders At Afghan Loya Jirga Attempt To Resolve Differences

Kabul, 2 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Leaders of rival groups at Afghanistan's Constitutional Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, are meeting behind closed doors today to try to resolve disagreements that caused about 40 percent of the delegates to boycott voting on the amendments to a draft constitution yesterday.

Leaders of protesting delegations include former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum, and Islamic conservative Abdul Rab Rasyl Sayyaf. They are seeking more representation in the government through a stronger role of the country's parliament and provincial legislatures.

U.S.-backed leader Hamid Karzai, who represents Pashtuns, stands for stronger presidential powers.

The leaders of protesting delegations met UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi yesterday to convey their concerns and demands.

The Loya Jirga session is scheduled to reconvene tomorrow.