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Swiss bring Afghans together to plan future

The Interim Afghan Prime Minister Hamid Karzai (left) at the official opening of the Emergency Loya Jirga in February

(Keystone Archive)

A conference organised by the Swiss Peace Foundation (swisspeace) to discuss the future of Afghanistan is underway in Kabul.

Around 170 Afghans are meeting until Sunday to formulate recommendations for the upcoming Loya Jirga, a traditional assembly that will begin talks about Afghanistan's future government at the end of June.

The aim of the discussions is to prevent conflict among the country's various groups and to assist in reconstruction efforts.

Unlike at an earlier conference organised by the Peace Foundation in Germany late last year, the majority of the participants are Afghans living in their own country. The Diaspora has only around 20 representatives in Kabul this time round.

The Peace Foundation said that conference, near Bonn, had demonstrated that all ethnic groups needed to be involved in deciding the future of Afghanistan, if a peace process was to be successful.

Fair representation

The participants were selected according to age and gender, and the organisers tried to make sure there was a fair representation of ethnic, regional and language groups.

The Second Afghan Civil Society Meeting is co-financed by Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands, as well as by various foundations. It is also coordinating with the planning committee of Loya Jirga and the civil department of the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan.

The political leaders meeting for the Loya Jirga will normally set up a transition government for the next two years, after which general elections will be held. The current discussions organised by swisspeace are aimed at promoting awareness and trust in the assembly according to the foundation.

The Swiss Peace Foundation is a peace-research institute based in Bern. It aims to reduce organised violence and foster peaceful coexistence in society and between states.

This latest conference is being conducted in connection with swisspeace's Afghan Civil Society Forum. The foundation opened an office in Kabul at the beginning of the month, with one local female employee.

swissinfo with agencies

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