Afghanistan's new interim administration, which will govern for six months from today, is dominated by the Northern Alliance, the military force that helped drive out the Taliban regime.

However, its leader belongs to the so-called "Rome Group" which sees a role for the former king.

Hamid Karzai, a member of Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, the Pashtuns, will be Chairman of the new administration.

The makeup of the administration was decided at a conference in Bonn this month. There are three main groups represented, the Northern Alliance, the Rome Group and the Peshawar Group.

A fourth element, the Cyprus Group, sent delegates to Bonn but has no members in the interim government.

The Northern Alliance will provide 18 of the administration's 30 members. It is a volatile ethnic mix of friends and former foes.

One of the Alliance's most powerful figures, legendary military commander Ahmed Shah Masood, was killed in September in a suicide bomb attack. His replacement, General Mohammad Fahim, becomes one of Karzai's five Vice-Chairmen, in charge of defence.

Following are some of the main parties comprising the alliance, formed after the Taliban took Kabul in September 1996.

* Jamiat-i-Islami: Formed in 1973 by Burhanuddin Rabbani, a lecturer in Shariah (Islamic law) at Kabul University, Jamiat-i-Islami is an Islamic party made up mainly of ethnic Tajiks and leads the alliance.

It is supported by Persian-speaking Tajiks and Turkic-speaking Uzbeks, who resent the domination of Afghanistan by the majority Pashtuns who made up the bulk of the Taliban.

* Shura-i-Nazar: The late Ahmad Shah Masood, known as the Lion of the Panjsher, built the most sophisticated military-political organisation, the Supervisory Council of the North (SCN-Shura-i-Nazar Shomali).

The SCN coordinated Jamiat commanders in about five provinces and also created regionwide forces that developed into Masood's Islamic Army (Urdu-yi Islami).

Their forces formed the vanguard of fighters who entered the capital in the wake of the fleeing Taliban.

* Jumbish-i-Milli (National Islamic Movement): Founded in 1991 by ethnic Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a famous former communist commander, Jumbish-i-Milli is mainly supported by Sunni Muslim Uzbeks.

Jumbish-i-Milli was created when non-Pashtun militias in the north, centred on Mazar-i-Sharif, formed a new alliance after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its fighters had the reputation of being the best-equipped and most highly trained soldiers in Afghanistan.

* Shi'ite/Hazara Hezb-i-Wahdat: Karim Khalili heads the party, a coalition of eight smaller Shi'ite Muslim guerrilla groups. The party was strong in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan until driven out by the Taliban in 1998.

* Ittehad-i-Islami: Abdurrab Rasul Sayyaf, a former professor of Islamic law at Kabul University, heads the party. Initially an aide to Rabbani, he became the neutral chairman of the first rebel alliance in 1980. A Pashtun, he formed the party mainly with the help of Saudi Arabia.

The alliance also contains several smaller groups, including some fighters who left Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami party.

One is General Abdul Malik, an Uzbek former aide to Dostum.

Another is Ismail Khan, once again governor of the western city of Herat who originally belonged to Jamiat-i-Islami.

Of the other groups represented in the administration, the Rome Group loyal to ex-King Mohammed Zahir Shah has six members, including two Vice Chairmen as well as Karzai, the Chairman.

They are Dr Sima Samar, a Hazara woman in charge of Women's Affairs, and Hedayat Amin Arsala, a Pashtun who will head the Finance Department.

The Peshawar Group, made up mostly of exiled Pashtun tribal leaders favoured by Pakistan, has just one member in the administration, Haji Mangal Hussein, who will run the department of irrigation.

The Iran-backed Cyprus Group, launched in the late 1990s as a rival to the ex-king's faction, is not represented.

Another woman, Dr Suhaila Seddiqi, will be an independent member in charge of public health.