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New constitution for Afghanistan applauded

Security Council applauds new constitution for Afghanistan

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  • The United Nations Security Council today commended the delegates to Afghanistan's Loya Jirga, or grand council, for reaching agreement at the weekend on adopting a new constitution for the war-wracked country.

    In a statement read out by the Council's President for January, Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile, the 15 members welcomed what they described as a "very significant step on the path towards a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan that respects the rights of all Afghan citizens, men and women."

    Mr. Muñoz said the constitution provides the platform for the holding of national elections later this year, fulfilling the timetable set at the Bonn conference in December 2001 when the UN brokered an agreement on Afghanistan's transition to democracy.

    The President hailed the Afghan people for their determination to restore the country "to its rightful place in the community of nations."

    Council members also praised the role played by the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, in securing agreement among the more than 500 delegates to the constitutional Loya Jirga. Mr. Brahimi's term as Special Representative to Afghanistan has now ended.

    Earlier, the Council received a written report on the situation in Afghanistan from Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has been providing regular updates on the country's progress and the UN mission there (UNAMA).

    In the report, Mr. Annan says Afghanistan faces several critical challenges if it is to successfully complete the peace process outlined at the Bonn conference, and he reiterates his call for a fresh political and donors' conference to strengthen recent gains.

    The Secretary-General said many of Afghanistan's provinces are beset by security problems, especially in rural areas, thanks to factional misrule and the work of elements allied to the Taliban, Al-Qaida or the warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

    There have been several attacks recently on UN staff working in Afghanistan and Mr. Annan said these highlight the need to rapidly improve security across the country.

    "I urge NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] and the coalition forces to take every measure possible to speed the deployment of security assistance in the provinces," he writes.

    Mr. Annan added that the number of voter registration centres, currently limited to the major cities and towns, must increase to meet the target rate of registration for this year's scheduled elections.

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