Representatives of four rival factions from Afghanistan are meeting at a United Nations-backed conference in Bonn in order to prepare ground for a peaceful future of their country.
The UN hopes that the conference would lead to a decision on possible power-sharing and the composition of a transitional government. However, that seems unlikely because the biggest group, the Taliban, is absent from the conference.
Four Afghan delegations are present at the talks in Bonn:
- the Northern Alliance, which controls the capital Kabul, is the largest faction but it mainly represents Tadjiks and Uzbeks;
- the former king Zahir Shah’s delegation, represents different ethnic groups; the former king is member of the Pashtun ethnic group, the biggest in Afghanistan;
- the Cyprus Group, representing Afghan exiles and former mujahideen fighters, close to Iran;
- the Peshawar Group, headed by Pakistan-backed Pashtun leader Pir Gailani.
The UN expects the Afghan delegations to draw up a list of candidates for a transitional government. That is the condition for the international community to fund the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
However, hopes for a rapid solution remain low. The different Afghan tribes and factions have concluded several peace agreements over the past decade but none was respected.
Diplomats hope for a provisional administration that would prevent the Northern Alliance from taking hold of Kabul. There are fears that the Northern Alliance might unleash more violence across the country. Its previous occupation of Kabul between 1992 and 1996 left thousands of dead.
The provisional government would have to be endorsed by a “Loya Jirga” – a grand council of Afghan tribal leaders.