The commission appointed by Afghan Interim Chairman, Hamid Karzai, to faciliate the assembly of the loya jirga, announced plans today to set aside 160 seats for women — 11% — at the national gathering to determine the next stage of the Afghan transition government. The 1500 member loya jirga is scheduled to take place June 10-16 and will be responsible for choosing members of Afghanistan’s next government, which will govern for eighteen months before national elections are held. Besides the guaranteed 160 seats for women, 100 seats have been set aside for Afghan refugees, 39 for university academics, 30 for members of the current interim government, and 6 for Islamic scholars. The Loya Jirga Commission includes 3 women.
The remaining delegates to the loya jirga will be selected on April 16, according to plans laid out by the Karzai commission, by consensus at the village level. These delegates will then participate in district elections where they can vote for themselves or others to act as representatives at the loya jirga. While individuals who have been involved in terrorism, drug trafficking, human rights abuses, and war crimes are banned from participation, many are still concerned that Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalists may gain representation in the loya jirga process.