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Afghan Officials Approve Constitution

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January 5, 2004

Afghanistan now has a constitution.

The country once ruled by the oppressive Taliban now has a presidential system of government that also has two houses of parliament. The president will be elected directly by the people of Afghanistan, who will also elect two vice-presidents. The official name of the country is now the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Also under the new laws, men and women will have equal rights. This is vastly different from the way that women were treated when the Taliban was in power. Then, women were not able to work or go to school or speak out in public or even go out in public without wearing clothing that covered the vast majority of their bodies, including much of their faces.

The constitution was the result of a meeting of officials from all over the country. The assembly, called the loya jirga, began December 14, 2003, and was slated to last for 7 to 10 days; but disagreements over presidential powers and a national language forced a longer session. The country is home to a great many ethnic groups, and most speak their own language. The new constitution names Dari and Pashtu as the official languages of the government.

Interim President Hamid Karzai has confirmed that he will run for president , with elections to take place later this year.

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