Taliban, Northern Opposition Agree to Form Coalition Government
The United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan reported Sunday that Afghanistan's Taliban regime and its northern opponents have brokered an agreement to cease fighting and to create a common government.
If both parties fulfill the United Nations-brokered agreement, Afghanistan will be free from the civil war that has killed more than 50,000 people and destroyed much of the country during the last 20 years. Under the agreement, the Taliban and the Islamic groups which make up the northern-based opposition would hold elections and share power in national executive, legislative, and judiciary branches of government. Few details were provided as to how the government would be established or when the cease-fire would come. Both sides also agreed to release 20 prisoners each to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Afghan Defense Minister Ahmed Shah Masood leads the northern opposition, which controls about 10% of Afghanistan. The repressive Taliban regime controls the remaining 90% of Afghanistan. Delegates from both groups will meet at a reception with Turkmenistan President Saparmurad today, and will resume peace talks in about two weeks.
This is the first peace agreement made between the northern opposition and the Taliban. Previous peace agreements between the groups which now make up the northern opposition have all failed.
Media Resources: AFP, AP and Voice of America - March 14 and 15, 1999
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