By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — About a thousand Afghans, mainly university students, have protested in eastern Afghanistan to oppose a proposed extension of the U.S. presence in the country.
The protest, in which demonstrators reportedly burned an image of U.S. President Barack Obama and shouted anti-American slogans, comes a day after a loya jirga, or national grand assembly, backed moves for long-term security assistance from the United States.
The nonbinding resolution issued by the loya jirga on November 19 gives Afghan President Hamid Karzai public support in negotiating U.S. military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when most international forces are scheduled to leave or remain only in a support role.
However, the 2,000-odd group of tribal elders and officials also demanded that certain conditions be met, insisting that the United States train Afghan troops to operate independently instead of relying on alternative administrative structures.
The group further requested reforms of the Afghan High Peace Council, which was led by former President Burhannudin Rabbani until his assassination in September, and asked for a broadly acceptable figure to be named as its new head.
The Taliban has condemned the move, issuing a statement describing it as a push by the Americans who “only used the name of loya jirga to announce it.”
Karzai is currently in talks with Washington to shape a so-called new “strategic partnership document” between the two countries.