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Kabul Mayor Resigns

Deputy Kabul Mayor Wahabuddin Sadat was arrested at Kabul Airport on December 12.

Deputy Kabul Mayor Wahabuddin Sadat was arrested at Kabul Airport on December 12.

KABUL (Reuters) -- The mayor of Kabul, convicted of corruption last week in the biggest case since President Hamid Karzai ordered a crackdown, has relinquished his post after days of defying prosecutors by continuing to go to work.

A municipality official said Mayor Abdul Ahad Sayebi had given up his post and was replaced on Sunday by a caretaker.

The mayor was sentenced to four years in jail last week, but remained free on bail pending an appeal and continued to show up at work, defying prosecutors who said his conviction automatically meant he should be fired.

Sayebi was convicted of corruptly extending the lease of a market without a competitive bid. He says the charges were politically motivated and aimed at removing him from office.

One of his deputies, Wahabuddin Sadat, was taken into custody at Kabul airport on December 12 after arriving home from the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, said Fazel Ahmad Faqiryar, a deputy attorney general.

"Like the mayor, he (Sadat) was also responsible for the contract of the market and he was arrested at Kabul airport on arrival," Faqiryar told Reuters of the deputy mayor.

Faqiryar said the Attorney General's office had secured guarantees from the mayor's office that Sayebi would no longer come to the municipality as its chief or use its facilities.

The mayor was the first high-profile Afghan politician to be convicted for years. Last month Karzai set up a new anti-corruption task force days before his own inauguration, part of measures demanded by Washington and other Western donors.

Karzai, who met British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Sunday, acknowledged that corruption was a problem, but said measures he was taking to fight it were not always reported.

"Many times a lot of the decisions that we take and the actions that we take are not being transmitted to the international friends of ours," he said. "I am sure Afghanistan needs to do a lot more, primarily for the Afghan people."

The attorney general's office says it is investigating two serving members of Karzai's cabinet and several former ministers on suspicion of corruption.