Warlord walks out of Bonn talks

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The Independent Online

An Afghan warlord from the largest ethnic group has walked out of talks on the country's political future in protest at the lack of Pashtun representation.

Abdul Qadir, the governor of the Pashtun province of Nangarhar, missedt two meetings with three other factions and UN mediators yesterday and today, a spokesman for Northern Alliance delegate Mohammad Natiqi said.

Mr Qadir's departure signalled the sensibilities in play at the talks near Bonn, now in their fourth day. The alliance delegation includes two other Pashtuns.

Mr Natiqi's spokesman, Bahadori, who goes by one name, downplayed the significance of Mr Qadir's move, saying he was still in Germany and was expected to return to the talks.

Though the Pashtuns comprise the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, with estimates ranging from 40 to 60 pe rcent, they don't have their own delegation here. At the same time, each of the four delegations present includes Pashtun representation.

The walkout illustrated the ethnic tensions that UN mediators must overcome to prod the northern alliance, a faction loyal to the former Afghan king and two smaller exile groups toward agreement on an interim post–Taliban administration.

Each faction has drafted lists of proposed representatives, but have not yet exchanged them, UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said.

Since they first met on Tuesday at the talks all sides have broadly agreed to form an executive body of 15–25 people and a larger council of up to 200 with a semi–legislative role, according to the U.N.

But the factions have yet to agree on how many seats each side is allotted in the interim bodies, who should fill them, the exact powers of the larger council and who should head it.