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Afghanistan Approves New Constitution

Following a year-long drafting process, a series of public meetings, and three weeks of debate by a government assembly, the Islamic Transitional State of Afghanistan approved a new constitution on January 4, 2004. President Hamid Karzai signed it into law on January 26th.

Afghanistan’s transitional government has been in place since June, 2002. Following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, sheltered in Afghanistan, the U.S. and its allies launched a military intervention that overthrew the governing Taliban regime. A subsequent meeting in Bonn, Germany of major Afghan leaders and diaspora groups in December of 2001 gave rise to the Afghan Interim Authority, which in turn held a nationwide Loya Jirga, or Grand Assembly, electing Karzai president.

The new constitution provides for a president elected directly to a five-year term, two vice presidents, and a bicameral national assembly. It divides the government into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. While it does not specifically enshrine sharia, or Islamic law, it states that no Afghan law “can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions” of Islam.

Power will remain with the transitional government until presidential elections are held. Originally scheduled for June 2004, many experts predict that they will be delayed because a widespread lack of security has slowed voter registration. National Assembly elections will probably take place in 2005.

For more information on the country, please see our Afghanistan national page. For an in-depth review of the new constitution, see the Council on Foreign Relations’ overview.


The 2004 Constitution, provided by Swiss Peace. It is also available from International Constitutional Law, and from Junbish.

Constitutions of the past, from Afghanistan Online


Updated Feb 5, 2008.

Human and Constitutional Rights Resource Page.

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