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Christiane Amanpour: Afghans tired of warlord government

Christiane Amanpour
Christiane Amanpour  

(CNN) -- United Nations Ambassador James Dobbins is in Kabul, Afghanistan, trying to help pave the way for a broad-based, multiethnic government for Afghanistan. It's unclear how successful those efforts will be.

CNN Correspondent Christiane Amanpour is in Kabul, and filed this report on political developments.

AMANPOUR: Indeed, as the political situation is gaining some momentum, so too is the last strong fighting pocket in northern Afghanistan. There has been a huge amount of fighting over the last few days of what is essentially the last stand by the Taliban and their Arab members of the Foreign Legion up there around Konduz.

Our colleagues up near that area report that the United States air campaign against the Taliban positions there has been exceptionally intense, exceptionally heavy today as they try to wipe out that last spot of resistance by the Taliban to make a clear swath through the north and to try to eventually turn their sights on Kandahar.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour reports on documents found in Kabul that detail nuclear weapon assembly instructions (November 16)

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Here in Kabul, there has been a lot of activity. As you mentioned, the U.N. special envoy has been meeting with members of the Northern Alliance. But also the Northern Alliance is seeking to allay fears within the international community, and to an extent within Afghanistan, saying today they have no intention of monopolizing power, that they do intend, after holding out for a few days -- according to their Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullah -- to hold a meeting of various factions and ethnic leaders in Europe somewhere early this week.

Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani came back to Kabul, not to reclaim power, but to say he was ready to share it. "The victory of the Northern Alliance, or the United Front, is for all Afghans, no matter their tribe or ethnic group," he said.

But it's been more than a decade since this country had a functioning government. Their parliament building has fallen into total disrepair. These two watchmen are trying to remember whether this was the assembly chamber or a cinema.

Outside, an informal assembly of passersby quickly gathered around us. Among them are civil servants longing for a real government to work for.

Indeed, it wasn't the Soviet occupation or the U.S. bombing that turned this capital city to rubble, but the various faction leaders, who are now vying for power again.

For longer than the people here care to remember, their city's been fought over by as many as 10 different factions at any given time, and they've ruined vast swaths of this capital. The one thing people here know for sure is that they don't want any of the old warlords back in charge.

Afghans who have never welcomed outside interference now say they need help getting back on their feet again.

Even Rabbani agrees with that idea, though he's being blamed for slowing down the political process.

The message from most people, including President Rabbani, is for the United States not to turn away now. They say their country fell into the hands of terrorists the last time the world lost interest in Afghanistan.

Now the U.S. special envoy, Ambassador Dobbins -- special envoy to the Afghan situation -- is due to meet with members of the Northern Alliance in Tashkent in Uzbekistan. And as we said, it appears that the pressure on the Northern Alliance to hold a meeting sooner rather than later appears to be bearing some fruit, with Dr. Abdullah, the foreign minister, saying that it may take place as early as this week outside Afghanistan, perhaps somewhere in Europe.

CNN: The Northern Alliance is maintaining this is not a land-grab there in Kabul; but who could stop them? They're there. They're in place. Who can throw them out, or change it?

AMANPOUR: Well, they've been asked that over and over again since they swept into Kabul. Really, they didn't have to fight their way in, as you know. There was a period of hours that there was nobody in charge here when the Taliban went out.

But what they're saying is that they have come in. They say this is the reality on the ground, that they don't intend to, quote, "seize power or extend their control," but that they want to make a broad- based government as soon as possible.

Obviously there's a great deal of skepticism about that. And they are obviously going to be held to their word. And the pressure on them in this last few days has been quite intense from various members of the international community. And they know the mood on the streets here is not going their way.

While the people here are happy and calm and the situation is controlled, they do want a difference from what they had in the past. They don't want any of these Northern Alliance warlords back again; they want a proper multiethnic, broad-based government, they say.


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