Acting President Calls for Peaceful Transfer

AFGHANISTAN

AFGHANISTAN'S acting president said April 21 that his government was ready to transfer power to mujahideen guerrillas surrounding Kabul.

Acting President Abdul Rahim Hatif said at a news conference that the only problem was that the mujahideen must unite and form a government to which power could be transferred.

"Our main objective is that a transfer of power should be peaceful," he said.

Mr. Hatif's conference was his first since he was appointed following the overthrow of President Najibullah April 16. Asked about a threat by hard-line guerrilla leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to attack Kabul, Hatif said his regime did not intend to hand over power to a single group within the fragmented mujahideen.

Mr. Hekmatyar, an Islamic fundamentalist, is massing his forces south of Kabul while his old enemy, Ahmed Shah Massoud, leads a coalition of mujahideen fighters and defecting government troops to the north. Hekmatyar has threatened to attack Kabul by April 26 unless the government capitulates.

Hatif, who was Mr. Najibullah's vice president, said it was up to the mujahideen whether his government had any role to play in a future administration.

Asked how soon the mujahideen could form a government after 14 years of civil war, Hatif replied: "It's best to ask them."

He did not rule out the possibility that a UN peace plan could be kept alive. The plan envisages the formation of a 15-man neutral council to administer Afghan-istan.

United Nations special envoy Benon Sevan, now in Kabul, was expected to meet Massoud for the first time April 21.

Hatif said he saw no obstacle to Najibullah leaving Afghanistan. The deposed president took refuge in UN offices in Kabul after an unsuccessful attempt to flee the country.

Sevan said April 20 that negotiations to allow Najibullah to leave the country were continuing. A serious problem was that Kabul Airport is in the hands of militiamen who have joined forces with Massoud while at the same time maintaining relations with the government.

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