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Afghan Factions Sign Deal in Bonn

Two decades of war have formally ended in an historic agreement in Bonn. Afghan rivals struck a deal that will hopefully lead their shattered nation towards democracy and allow the rebuilding of a country in ruins.

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"The eyes of the world will be on you", UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi

The deal was signed after the factions had decided on the names of the new administration at a ceremony attended by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in Bonn.

The post-Taliban government will be headed by Pashtun chief Hamid Karzai, a royalist now fighting the Taliban in the Kandahar region. He will act as a sort of interim prime minister in the administration. Karzai will take over on December 22.

The dominant Northern Alliance keeps the three most powerful ministries - Yunis Qanuni stays as interior minister, Mohammad Fahim remains defence minister and Abdullah Abdullah is foreign minister. There are at least two women in the new cabinet.

"Today we have ended military operations and have begun the political process", Qanuni said in Bonn. "Today we promise our brothers and sisters that with the help of god, we will end your suffering".

The Northern Alliance is to give its complete backing to the agreement. "We were the champions of resistance. Now we will fight with equal determination to be champions of peace in Afghanistan", Qanuni said.

UN brokers peace

UN special envoy to Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi, said the power-sharing deal must now bring peace, reconciliation and democracy to their ravaged nation.

"The eyes of the world will be on you; and you carry a huge responsibility," Brahimi told delegates.

The UN had brokered the accord to set up an interim administration with 30 members.

There are also plans to set up a special commission to convene a Loya Jirga, or traditional grand assembly.

The former King, Zahir Shah, is expected to participate in the assembly, though it is not clear if he will open it, as some of his supporters have called for. The interim administration will rule for six months until this assembly is convened.

The deal was sealed just in time for an Afghanistan donor conference that begins in Berlin, which could approve immediate emergency humanitarian assistance.

The accord also asks the UN Security Council to mandate peacekeepers to guarantee security in the Afghan capital Kabul.

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