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Afghan Governor Rejects Promotion To Ministry

11 September 2004 -- Powerful Afghan commander Ismail Khan today refused the government position offered by Afghan Interim Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai but accepted his dismissal as governor of Herat province.

Khan said he obeys government's orders but as a military man did not consider himself qualified for the government job.

Earlier today, Karzai's spokesman, Rafiullah Mojadidi, announced that Khan had been appointed minister of mines and industry.

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai, according to the decision of National Security [Council] of Afghanistan, approved the appointment of current governor of Herat as mines and industry minister," Mojadidi said.

The government intends to replace Khan as governor with Sayed Mohammed Khaiekhawa, who was the country's ambassador to Ukraine.

Herat province was the scene of four days of factional fighting between militias loyal to Khan and his rivals.

Khan has pledged allegiance to the central government, but his private army, which estimates of tens of thousands soldiers, has been the source of concern. Khan has a reputation of as an iron-fisted leader, accused by international human rights groups of jailing and torturing political opponents.

Karzai also announced that he replaces Ghor Governor Mohammed Ibrahim Malikzada with Abdul Qadir Alam. No information on Alam was immediately available.

(RFE Afghan Service/AP/AFP)