Until the middle of the 20th century, Afghanistan was ruled by the
absolute power of the king. Two constitutions were promulgated, in
1923 and 1931, both affirming the power of the monarchy. The constitution
of 1964, however, provided for a constitutional monarchy, based on
the separation of executive, legislative, and judicial authorities.
A military coup in 1973 overthrew the monarchy, abolished the constitution
of 1964, and established the Republic of Afghanistan. The Grand
National Assembly (Loya Jirgah) adopted a new constitution
in February 1977, but it was abrogated in 1978 when another coup established
the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, governed by the Afghan
Revolutionary Council. Political turmoil continued, marked by a third
coup in September 1979, a massive invasion of troops from the Soviet
Union, and the installation of a socialist government in December
1979. A new constitution promulgated in 1987 changed the name of the
country back to the Republic of Afghanistan and reaffirmed its nonaligned
status, strengthened the post of president, and permitted other parties
to participate in government.
The highest government authority is vested in the Grand National
Assembly, a body defined as "the highest manifestation of the
will of the people of Afghanistan" and made up of members of
the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The Grand National
Assembly has the power to elect the president, amend and interpret
the constitution, declare war, and adopt decisions on "the
most important questions concerning the country's national destiny."
The head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces is
the president, who is elected for a seven-year term. The Council
of Ministers is the highest executive body and is responsible for
domestic and foreign policy. The National Assembly is the highest
legislative body and comprises a 192-member council of elders and
a 234-member council of representatives.
Afghanistan has a centralized system of local government. For administrative
purposes the country is divided into provinces, each administered
by a centrally appointed governor. The provinces are further subdivided
into districts and sub-districts, headed by appointed commissioners.
In April 1992 The communist government was overthrown by the various
Islamist Parties that established the first Islamic Republic of
Afghanistan. This regime was driven out as result of internal warfare
by the student militia of Taliban which established the Islamic
Emirate of Afghanistan in September 1996.
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