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Afghan President Removes 2 Key Governors Ahead of October Elections

Ayaz Gul, VOA, Islamabad - 11 Sep 2004

Afghanistan's interim President Hamid Karzai has removed two provincial governors - including a powerful regional warlord - in a bid to consolidate the central government's authority. The move comes less than a month before landmark presidential elections on October 9.

A presidential statement issued in Kabul Saturday says that Ismail Khan, the governor of the western Herat province has been promoted to national minister of mines and industry. It says the decision was taken to utilize Mr. Khan's "extensive experience as well as his management skills at the national level."

The veteran Mujahideen leader Khan has long been a critic of the interim Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.

Mr. Karzai has tried to promote and move him to Kabul before as interior minister and vice president, but both offers were turned down.

The pro-Iran Afghan warlord has been resisting pressure from the central government to disarm his private militia. The United Nations has long maintained that without disarming thousand of private fighters, improving security and holding free and fair elections in Afghanistan will remain a major challenge.

U.N. spokesman in Kabul, Manoel de Almeida e Silva, this week repeated demands that the Afghan government accelerate efforts to disarm private militias and reduce influence of regional warlords ahead of the October's presidential elections.

"The less armed militias you have the greater the possibility for an environment where people will feel free to exercise their right of choice," he said.

President Karzai also replaced Mohammad Ibrahim Malikzada as governor of Ghor province with Abdul Qadir Alam.

... Payvand News - 9/11/04 ... --

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