Afghan rebel leader barred

KABUL (Reuter) - The Afghan President, Burhanuddin Rabbani yesterday ruled out any return to the coalition Islamic government for the renegade mujahedin chief whose forces have pounded Kabul with rockets and artillery for more than a week.

The dissident, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, gave up any right to membership in the 10-member ruling Leadership Council when he launched his bombardment of Kabul, Mr Rabbani said. The beleaguered Afghan government needed economic and political help from the United Nations but had the power to repulse Mr Hekmatyar's fundamentalist Hizbe Islami faction without outside intervention, Mr Rabbani said. He added that all the mujahedin parties in the Council would oppose the return of Hizbe.