LONDON, Dec 5: Afghan factions meeting in Bonn on Wednesday signed an agreement to end 23 years of civil war and to lead their country towards rebuilding and democracy.

Delegates continued their discussions until dawn to finally agree on a post-Taliban government to be headed by Hamid Karzai, a Pakhtoon and supporter of ex-king Zahir Shah.

The signing ceremony was also attended by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Mr Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesman for the United nations, said all the delegates had agreed upon the names of 30 people put forward, but 11 of those named still needed to be contacted for getting their consent.

He said the new government would start functioning on Dec 22. It will rule for six months.

After the expiry of the six-month period, former king Zahir Shah will call a Loya Jirga (grand assembly) to appoint a transitional government for the subsequent 18 months.

The deal was sealed just in time for a donors conference at Berlin, which is expected to approve immediate emergency humanitarian assistance.

The new administration faces a mammoth rebuilding task requiring billions of dollars in Western aid.

The Northern Alliance keeps the three most powerful ministries - Yunis Qanuni will serve as interior minister, Mohammad Fahim as defence minister and Abdullah Abdullah as foreign minister.

The three are Tajiks from the Panjsher Valley, the base of legendary guerilla leader Ahmad Shah Masood, who was assassinated on Sept 9.

There are women in the cabinet.

The accord asks the UN security council to send peacekeepers to guarantee security in Kabul.

The new interim administration has so far not specified a role for Northern Alliance leader Burhanuddin Rabbani, the UN-recognized president of Afghanistan.

The newly appointed foreign minister, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, had said last week that his side was seeking no role for Prof Rabbani, signalling a rift between its younger and older members.

But the UN blueprint contains an addition obviously intended to mollify the Alliance leader, expressing “deep appreciation to His Excellency Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani for his readiness to transfer power to an interim authority”.

Mr Karzai, selected for the top post, has an advantage of representing the Pakhtoons, Afghanistan’s biggest ethnic group. A strong supporter of former king Zahir Shah, Mr Karzai came under attack by Taliban forces a few weeks ago when he tried to rally Pakhtoons living in the south of the country to support efforts for a new government.

WOMAN DEPUTY PM: A woman has been named to become deputy prime minister in Afghanistan’s future interim administration, Abdul Sattar Sirat from the ex-king’s entourage in the Bonn negotiations, said on Wednesday. add agencies.

Sima Samar is to hold the portfolios of deputy premiership and the public health ministry.

PEACE’: The head of the Northern Alliance delegation at the talks promised his party was committed to ending the suffering of the Afghan people and striving for peace.

YUNUS QANOONI SAID: “Today we have ended a military process and have entered into a political process. Today we promise to our brothers and sisters that we will, Inshallah, put an end to their suffering.

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