Tribal Leaders Pour Into Kabulto Begin the Loya Jirga Process That Will Determine Afghanistan's Future

June 11, 2002

Delegates at Afghanistan’s traditional assembly, or Loya Jirga, are threatening to walk out in fury after the former king Mohammed Zahir Shah announced he will not be a candidate for head of state.

Zahir Shah made the announcement under heavy US pressure. The US feared Zahir Shah’s candidacy could scuttle interim President Hamid Karzai’s chances of becoming leader. The battle over the Shah’s role plunged the Loya Jirga into chaos and delayed the proceedings yesterday.

Pashtun delegates expressed shock at the announcement. One told the London Independent: "We want the king as a candidate. How can this be [a] step towards democracy? What kind of a democracy is this?"


  • Philip Smucker, reporter for the Christian Science Monitor in Kabul.

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