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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Thursday 8 December 2005

AFGHANISTAN: New parliament to meet

KABUL, 7 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - Following the appointment of 34 presidential appointees to the 102-seat Meshrano Jirga (the upper house of parliament), Afghanistan's new national assembly is scheduled to convene on 19 December for the first time in more than three decades, an official said on Wednesday.

“The new parliament building is prepared for the opening,” said Tahira Shirzoai, public information officer for the national assembly, adding the recently refurbished building that would be home to both upper and lower houses, had been officially handed over to Azizullah Ludin, head of parliament’s secretariat, on Tuesday.

The parliament building, located in the west of the capital, was constructed in the late 1960s to house Afghanistan’s first parliament during the reign of King Mohammad Zahir Shah. It last housed the national legislature in 1973.

Renovating and equipping the new parliament building, damaged, along with most of Kabul’s buildings, when rival factions fought for the capital in the 1990s, cost US $3.4 million, Shirzoai noted.

The 18 September election for the lower house and 34 provincial councils was a key step in war-torn Afghanistan’s transition to democracy after the ouster of the hard line Taliban regime in 2001.

Of the country's 12.5 million registered voters, some 6.8 million Afghans took part in the polls to elect a national legislature and 34 provincial councils for a five-year term.

Almost 5,800 candidates contested the poll, including over 2,700 for the 249-seat Wolesi Jirga (lower house) and more than 3,000 for 420 seats in provincial councils.


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