Gen. Rashid Dostum, whose militia forces control the balance of power in Kabul, said yesterday he would not take sides in the controversy over whether Afghanistan's interim president should step down this week as scheduled.

"It is up to the leadership in Kabul to decide," General Dostum said. "We are military men and that is not our business."

Interim President Sibghatullah Mojadidi said Sunday he would not hand over power to Burhannudin Rabbani next week, as scheduled under a powersharing agreement reached by mujahideen forces in April.

President Mojadidi said he would instead transfer authority to a 64-member Jihad Council which he heads. His move is seen as an attempt to deny radical Islamic groups control in Afghanistan.

Mr. Rabbani heads the Jamiat-i-Islami, which has called for a complete transformation of the country based on Islamic law and principles.

Dostum's forces are believed to be the most powerful in the capital. His Uzbek militia fought for the Najibullah government until March, when they joined the rebel side and played a critical role in the mujahideen victory.

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