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Ex-Taleban Opt For Democracy

Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil, former foreign minister of the Taleban government, has registered as a candidate in Afghanistan's parliamentary elections in September. Mr. Mutawakil says he hopes to represent the city of Kandahar in the new two-hundred-forty-nine seat parliament. "I am doing this for the sake of the people of Afghanistan," he said. "If I win, I will work for the peace and development of Afghanistan."

Mr. Mutawakil surrendered to U.S.–led coalition forces in early 2002. He has since criticized al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden for bringing suffering on the Afghan people. The former Taleban foreign minister is calling on remaining Taleban insurgents to stop their attacks and enter into talks with the government of president Hamid Karzai.

Under an Afghan government amnesty, Taleban members who are not associated with the al-Qaida terrorist network and who have not committed atrocities may return to the homes. In return, they must renounce violence and pledge to support the government of Afghanistan.

Taleban commander Mullah Abdul Khaliq, known as Haji Malam, and forty insurgents in Uruzgan province recently accepted the government's amnesty and turned in their weapons. General Muslim Hamed, Afghan army commander for the region, said Khaliq's surrender "is a great success for the government." Other senior Taleban officials who have renounced violence include Abdul Hakim Mujahid, the former Taleban envoy to the United Nations; Arsullah Rahmani; former Taleban deputy minister for education; and Mullah Khaksar Akhhund, former Taleban deputy interior minister.

Removing the gun from Afghan politics will take time. "No nation in history has made the transition from tyranny to a free society without setbacks and false starts," says President George W. Bush. But many Afghans are determined to see democracy take root:

"Iraq and Afghanistan have held free elections, and are now building free societies. In Afghanistan, they have for the first time a democratically elected president, and they are now seeing the rebirth of civil society in a place that until recently had only known the terror of the Taleban."

"Those who claim their liberty," said President Bush, "will have an unwavering ally in

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.

the United States."