Saturday, November 15, 2003

NEWS ROUND-UP: Several Afghan newspapers have been reporting that there were student protests at Balkh University against the new draft of the constitution. The protestors walked through the streets of the Mazer-E-Sharif, stopping at the office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan and than demanded that a) Uzbek should be recognized as the official language of the country alongside Dari and Pashto b) balance among the languages should be applied as far as the national anthem, banknotes and military ranks c) the title of "Father of the Nation" (granted to the king Zahir Shah) should be given to a person who has made some achievements d) primary and higher education should be available free of charge to the people as in the past e) the process of elections should be monitored by the United Nations f) a national of Afghanistan should be called "Afghanistani" rather than "Afghan" g) the first language of the country should be determined by people's votes. Good news and very interesting, to say the least.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree on the voters' registration for the 2004 election, on Wednesday. The decree set up rules for voter registration and creates the Joint Election Office to monitor and registrate voters. Registration is set to begin on December 1 and will continue into the middle of next year. The office's deputy Afran Abdul-Rahman of Mauritius, issued a special plea Thursday, asking Afghanistan's women to turn out for the registration and voting.

RFE/RL's Amin Tarzi has an analyse on women rights and the use of force under the draft of the new constitution. He also has the latest from Afghanistan.

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