PRAGUE, March 28, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The outgoing foreign minister of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, says he still does not know why Afghan President Hamid Karzai decided to sack him. In a press conference on March 27, his first since Karzai announced a cabinet reshuffle on March 22, Abdullah insisted that, after over 21 years at the center of the Afghan political scene, he will not leave it now.
Clearly trying to put a brave face on the decision to remove him from the post he had occupied since shortly after the fall of the Taliban regime in late 2001, Abdullah rejected rumors that there had been foreign policy differences between him and the president.
"I am not aware of any such thing," Abdullah said, adding that there had been no mention of policy differences in his conversations with Karzai.
"Naturally I would have preferred it if I had been consulted and known what the problems may have been," Abdullah said. "I am sure there must have been problems," he continued, but said he now needed "some time to judge for myself what could have led to this decision."
Abdullah expressed some unhappiness, saying that "I told the president that, naturally, anyone removed from a post -- even a lower-ranking one -- would be unhappy." However, he was restrained in his comments. "I can fully understand that an elected president has to choose a team that suits him," he said. "He has to be responsive to the people."
Asked repeatedly what public post he now hopes to fill, he replied that he did not know but that he is certain of one thing -- that he will not leave the political scene.
Abdullah first came to prominence in the 1980s when he became a senior adviser towards Ahmed Shah Masood, a ethnic-Tajik resistance leader.
Given that record, "you can imagine not being in the post of a minister is not going to deter me," Abdullah told reporters. "The end of my ministerial post will not be the end of my service to Afghanistan, I can say that much."
Abdullah, who will remain the country's acting foreign minister until the new cabinet is approved by the Afghan parliament, was the last major leader of the Northern Alliance in the cabinet. The president had earlier, in a reshuffle in 2004, removed Mohammad Fahim from the Defense Ministry and Yunis Qanuni from the Interior Ministry.