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Afghanistan: Loya Jirga Election Process Begins

Kabul, 15 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan special electors are due today to start the indirect election process that will result in the selection of the Loya Jirga grand national council that will choose Afghanistan's next government. The first of more than 300 local district meetings to pick Loya Jirga representatives is due to be held in Mardyan, in the northern Jozjan Province.

Some 1,500 Afghans, including 160 women, are planned to take part in the internationally backed Loya Jirga in June. The grand national council will appoint a new government to lead Afghanistan for 18 months, until elections can be held.

Under the Bonn accords, former Afghan King Zahir Shah is to inaugurate the Loya Jirga. The ex-king plans to return to Afghanistan some time this week.