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Haggling For Power

The battle continues between Afghan factions on who should sit in the new interim government.

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No smooth sailing for Afghan talks in Bonn on the Rhine

The sign says it all. On Monday, the banner reading "UN Talks on Afghanistan - Bonn, November 2001" was exchanged for one that reads "November/December 2001".

The conference, which began last Tuesday, was initially supposed to be over by late Saturday. But the Afghan delegates meeting near Bonn are still trying to finalize an agreement on a post-Taliban government for Afghanistan.

Deadline approaches

Time is running out, though. A donor conference for Afghan reconstruction aid is set to begin in Berlin on Wednesday. And one condition for billions of dollars in financial support is that the Afghan delegates strike a deal.

A UN draft agreement presented to the talks proposes an interim administration for the next six months. It will govern Afghanistan until a Loya Jirga, or traditional assembly, is held. Then, a transitional government takes over for a further 18 months, followed by eventual elections.

Details still need clarification

The Afghan representatives still haven't agreed on who would get what job in the interim authority. UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said names had still not been formally floated at the talks. This remained the hardest task. "The only thing that is holding up an agreement on the future of Afghanistan is a list of names," said Fawzi.

A spokesman for Northern Alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani said Rabbani approved the UN proposal. He also named four possible candidates to lead an interim administration, among them Abdul Sattar Sirat, a former justice minister.

On Sunday, the Northern Alliance and representatives of former Afghan king Zahir Shah nominated Sirat become the country's new premier. The nomination has yet to be approved by all groups.

Rabbani's spokesman also said the Northern Alliance would not object to a foreign or Afghan force providing security for members of the interim government.

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