Afghan Council Called to Form New Government

AFGHAN authorities said Saturday they had completed preparations for a key council meeting that could be convened in the next two days to elect a successor to interim President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

But hard-line mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar demanded Mr. Rabbani's removal before the Hal-o-Aqad council meeting and outlined three other proposals to break the political impasse.

Noorullah Emad, chairman of a central commission charged with conducting the council, said it had completed its work and was awaiting Rabbani's announcement convening the meeting.

He dismissed suggestions that most mujahideen parties would boycott it. "Most parties have agreed and others will agree in time," he said.

Emad said 1,335 delegates had already gathered in Kabul to choose Afghanistan's first elected president since the 1979 Soviet invasion.

Seven of the nine parties represented in the fractious Leadership Council have expressed doubts about the electoral process, accusing Rabbani of bribing delegates.

The council was originally due to meet from Dec. 12 to 15 to elect a successor to Rabbani, whose term expired Dec. 15. So far only two introductory sessions have been held.

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