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Constitution

On January 4, 2004, 502 delegates from across the country approved a new Constitution for Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai signed it into law on January 26, 2004.
PTI | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON FEB 01, 2006 08:12 PM IST

Islamic Republic

On January 4, 2004, 502 delegates from across the country approved a new Constitution for Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai signed it into law on January 26, 2004.

The country will be run by a strong president. A Parliament with Upper and Lower House will have lesser powers.

Human-rights groups' worry is, too much ground has been given to religious fundamentalists.

The Constitution defines Afghanistan as an Islamic republic, and says that no laws can be passed that are "contrary to the beliefs and practices of Islam", a provision that may be exploited in the future by Islamic populists.

However, the last-minute inclusion of Turkmen and Uzbek as officially recognised languages in areas where they are spoken by a majority will help the government seem less of a Pushtun-Tajik affair and more like one that reflects the nation's diversity.

As such, the 160-article text is viewed in some corners as the basis of compromise between traditional and modern values - and in others as a disappointment, especially for those who had hoped to see specific provisions on issues such as women's rights.

Political structure: Under the new Constitution, the bicameral National Assembly consists of the Wolesi Jirga or House of People (no more than 250 seats), directly elected for a five-year term, and the Meshrano Jirga or House of Elders (composed of one representative from each provincial council, one representative from each district council, and a number of presidential appointees; the presidential appointees will include two representatives of Kuchis and two representatives of the disabled; half of the presidential appointees will be women);

The new Constitution provides for a president elected directly to a five-year term, two vice presidents, and a bicameral national assembly. It divides the government into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. While it does not specifically enshrine sharia, or Islamic law, it states that no Afghan law "can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions" of Islam.

On rare occasions, the government may convene the Loya Jirga on issues of independence, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity; it can amend the provisions of the Constitution and prosecute the president; it is made up of members of the National Assembly and chairpersons of the provincial and district councils.

Chief of state: President of the TISA, Hamid KARZAI (since November 3, 2004);
head of government: President of the TISA, Hamid KARZAI (since November 3, 2004).

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