KABUL, Dec. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan has made great achievements in 2004, and the adoption of a post-war constitution and the presidential election are the two major bolsters of the war-ravaged country's faster reconstruction.
In early January, over 500 delegates from across the country attended the historic Constitutional Loya Jirga or Grand Assembly.During the three weeks, they solved all crucial issues in the draft constitution prepared by the transitional government and unanimously ratified the first constitution in the post-Taliban nation.
"I pray to God the Almighty that this constitution would lead to building a civil society and achievement of economic, social, political and cultural prosperity for all and ensure peace, equity and brotherhood within the Afghan nation," Karzai said after the adoption of the constitution.
The constitution, which has 12 chapters and 160 articles, paved the way for the country's first-ever direct election on Oct. 9, and Karzai, who came to power with the US backing after the fall of Taliban three years ago, got the mandate with 55.4 percent of the votes to govern the nation for another five years.
With the election, a determined Karzai, who turns 47 on Dec. 24,not only strengthened his authority but marginalized his political rivals, mainly Jihaid leaders or former anti-Soviet resistance figures.
Through the polls, Karzai also managed to isolate his armed opponents, the fundamentalist anti-US Taliban remnants, whom he had failed to wipe out in a military way.
In addition, Karzai aggressively pushed ahead with the UN-backed Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program launched late last year, under which over 27,000 former militia combatants have been disarmed.
The nationwide program has not only helped Karzai shrink local commanders' power but enabled him to extend the central government's control beyond the capital city to the vast countryside.
Under the DDR, over 60,000 militiamen loyal to different commanders and warlords will be disarmed before the parliamentary election scheduled for next April to allow the president to smoothly implement his agenda.
The continued disarmament program has strengthened Karzai's hand to take action against defiant regional leaders and expand his control in far-flung areas where establishing law and order was impossible in the past.
To demonstrate his authority and boost central government's credibility, Karzai in 2004 has also resorted to an administrative reform, replacing or removing several regional strongmen and warlords from their official posts.
Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim, western Herat province's strongman Ismael Khan and military leader of north Afghanistan General Atta Mohammad are among the prominent figures who have fallen prey to the reform and lost their military fiefdoms. (more)