Any sense of optimism generated by the adoption of a new constitution in Afghanistan may prove short-lived. Continued instability and inter-ethnic suspicion are raising doubt about the ability of Afghan officials to keep to a transition timetable that envisions a presidential election this summer.
Interim President Hamid Karzai has signaled his intention to press ahead with the election in mid-2004. US officials have also expressed a strong desire to adhere to Afghanistan's reconstruction blueprint, drawn up at the Bonn conference in 2002.
On January 10, soon after the adoption of Afghanistan's new constitution at an often contentious loya jirga, Karzai declared that he would be a candidate for president. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. The new constitution establishes a strong presidency, and enshrines equal rights for men and women.
United Nations officials and independent experts suggested that logistical difficulties will require the postponement of the presidential poll. One UN official pointed to voter registration rolls, which show that only a tiny fraction of Afghanistan
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a specialist on Iranian and Afghan affairs and is a frequent contributor to EurasiaNet.