Afghan ex-king appoints three-member body
ROME, Oct 13 (AFP) - Afghanistan's ex-king Mohammed Zahir Shah has appointed a three-member body to take charge of his affairs as more local dignitaries are set to arrive in the Italian capital for consultations and demands, officials said Saturday.
Abdullah Popal, a close associate of Zahir Shah, said the newly-appointed team took charge of his affairs, obtaining the ex-monarch's approval for what they do.
The team, based in a Rome hotel, includes his top aide and son-in-law General Abdul Wali, his close allies and ex-ministers Sultan Mahmoud Ghazi and Abdul Sattar Sirat.
As the United States continues attacks in Afghanistan for harbouring Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect of September 11 terrorist attack on the US, the 86-year-old Zahir Shah is regarded as a figure able to unify the opposition leaders within a transition set-up if the ruling Taliban is toppled.
The powerful Wali, believed to be influential in Shah's policies when he ruled Afghanistan from 1933 to 1973, appears to be the team's key player.
Influential new faces are also emerging within the family's political landscape. hese include Mirwais Zahir, his son; Mustapha Zahir and Humaira Wali his grand-children.
Sources within the family told AFP that one of Afghanistan's anti-Soviet resistance leaders Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani was expected in Rome on Sunday leading a big delegation to the ex-king.
"They come to extend their support and consultations" to the Loya Jirga or grand assembly of tribal chieftains which Zahir Shah has plans to convene inside the country for sketching a political solution to the protracted conflict," Sirat said.
The Afghan ex-president Sebghatullah Mujadeddi, currently in Rome, has asked the ex-monarch that the number be raised from 120 to 220 on the so-called Supreme Council for National Unity of Afghanistan which is supposed to call the traditional Loya Jirgah.
Earlier this month, Zahir Shah agreed with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance to form this council, including 50 people from each side and another 20 to be jointly agreed upon.
However a royal family member confided that the equal footing idea had been rejected by the ethnic Pashtoon nationalists.
An alliance delegation is expected in Rome by the end of this week with a list of its nominees and a delegation of the Pashtoon nationalist party of Afghan Mellat is in Rome lobbying against the proposed list.
Its presence has been protested by some of Zahir's close allies with a tilt towards the Northern Alliance, a coalition of ethnic minority leaders who have resisted the also predominantly Pashtoon Taliban, whose charismatic leader Ahmad Shah Masood was assassinated last month.
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