Taliban to 'temporarily' adopt monarchy constitution, with caveats

Published September 28, 2021
In this file photo, Taliban officials stand on the tarmac of Kabul airport after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. — AFP
In this file photo, Taliban officials stand on the tarmac of Kabul airport after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. — AFP

The Taliban said on Tuesday they will temporarily adopt a 1964 constitution that granted women the right to vote but eliminate any elements they disagree with.

The Taliban's acting justice minister issued a statement saying the interim government planned to introduce a constitution used during Afghanistan's short-lived golden age of democracy, but only briefly and with amendments.

“The Islamic Emirate will adopt the constitution of the former king Mohammad Zahir Shah's time for a temporary period,” Maulvi Abdul Hakim Sharaee said.

But anything in the text found to conflict with Sharia (Islamic law) and the principles of the Islamic Emirate would be discarded, he added.

Nearly six decades ago, before the world's superpowers intervened in the country, Afghanistan enjoyed a brief period of constitutional monarchy during the reign of king Mohammad Zahir Shah.

The king ratified the constitution a year after coming to power in 1963, ushering in nearly a decade of parliamentary democracy before he was overthrown in 1973.

The 1964 constitution, which gave women the right to vote for the first time and opened the doors for their increased participation in politics, would appear an awkward fit with the Taliban's views.

But the group, which swept to power in mid-August, has vowed a softer and more inclusive approach than during their brutal 1996 to 2001 rule, when women were largely excluded from public life, including work and education.

Despite the promises, when they presented their caretaker government earlier this month, all the top positions went to hardliners and no women were included.

After suffering through the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, followed by civil war and then harsh Taliban rule, Afghanistan once again adopted a constitution in the aftermath of the US-led 2001 invasion.

But it opted not to restore the old monarchy, approving instead a fresh text in 2004 that envisaged a presidency and enshrined equal rights for women.

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