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Afghanistan: Loya Jirga Meeting Delayed

Kabul, 10 June 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Afghanistan's Loya Jirga meeting, scheduled to open today to choose a transitional government, is expected to be delayed until tomorrow. Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Omar Samad said the Loya Jirga commission head, Ismail Qasim Yar, said the delay was due to "logistical reasons." No further details were immediately available.

The surprise announcement follows last-minute negotiations over the role of the country's former King Zahir Shah. Leaders of the Northern Alliance want no role for the king, while there have been reports that others within the administration and delegates to the Loya Jirga want the ex-monarch to play a significant role.

The meeting of 1,500 delegates from around the country was called to choose a government to rule the country until general elections in two years' time.