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UN: Afghanistan publishes draft constition

Afghanistan: UN hails publication of draft constitution

Afghanistan has taken another step forward on the road to democracy with the publication of its draft constitution, the United Nations Mission (UNAMA) in the country announced today.

Hailing this development as “the culmination of over a year of hard work,” UNAMA spokesman David Singh said the text would ultimately strengthen national unity and the rule of law in the war-ravaged nation.

“The document reflects a serious attempt to reflect the views of Afghans on many important and complex issues: the nature of the rights and freedoms of individuals, the form of government, the respective powers of central government and local institutions, equality among all Afghan citizens, the role of Islam, the status of languages and religious sects existing in Afghanistan, among others,” Mr. Singh told the press in Kabul.

The text will be “put to the test” at a meeting of the country's Constitutional Loya Jirga tribal council set to convene in five weeks time in the capital, he said. Between now and then, the document is being disseminated throughout the country for debate.

The draft constitution, which was elaborated by commission, has already benefited from a nationwide process of public consultation as well as substantive debates within the Government.

Mr. Singh cautioned that much work lies ahead. “The Afghan constitution, like constitutions of other countries, addresses fundamental issues on which people have different views,” he said. “Success at the Loya Jirga will require leadership and a spirit of accommodation and moderation.”

Mr. Singh pledged the UN's support in helping the Afghans achieve a constitution marking “the manifestation of national unity to which the people aspire.”

Also addressing reporters, the Director of the Constitutional Commission Secretariat, Farooq Wardak, described efforts to share the text with the Afghan people. “So far, we have produced 7,000 official copies,” he said, adding that plans were underway to distribute over 100,000 additional copies in various forms.

Asked about the response so far, Mr. Wardak said there had been widespread praise for the draft constitution. At the same time, he cited “some negative views” and questions from those favoring a restoration of the monarchy and others advocating federalism.

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