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Afghanistan: Loya Jirga Prepares To Approve Constitution

Kabul, 28 December 2003 (RFE/RL) - Delegates to Afghanistan's Constitutional Loya Jirga, or grand council, are preparing to vote today on a draft which reportedly endorses a presidential form of government as favored by Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai (pictured). A committee of delegates yesterday finished its work to reconcile the conflicting views of Karzai and factional leaders on whether Afghanistan should have a presidential or parliamentary system.

Committee members told AFP news agency they had accepted a presidential system. But they said they had not yet agreed on other matters such as the country's official languages, and whether Afghanistan should be a free-market economy, and whether higher education should be free.

Those articles will be debated in today's plenary session of all 502 loya jirga delegates gathered in a white tent to ratify the draft.

Ratification of the constitution would clear the way for democratic elections planned for June 2004.