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Afghanistan: New Governor Arrives In Paktia Province

Kabul, 14 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A new governor for Afghanistan's troubled eastern Paktia Province arrived today in the provincial capital Gardez to assume his post. The interim Afghan government appointed Taj Mohammad Wardak earlier this week to replace a factional leader who besieged Gardez after local leaders refused to accept him as governor. Padshan Khan had been confirmed as governor by the interim government but was replaced after his fighters clashed with supporters of local factional leaders. Some 60 people were killed in the clashes, the worst factional fighting since the interim government took power in December.

Gardez local leaders said they will accept Wardak as governor. Town residents welcomed the new governor upon his arrival today with flowers and cheers.

Khan has said that he would fight for the governorship, which he says is rightfully his. But he has not specifically said whether his troops will again besiege Gardez.