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Afghanistan: Karzai Sacks Government Officials

Kabul, 3 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai today sacked 15 government officials for corruption following an emergency meeting of the cabinet last night. Karzai's spokesman, Fazal Akbar, said the cabinet made the decision to dismiss 15 local commanders at that meeting and that more people would be fired in the next few days.

Akbar said among those fired were senior civil and military officials from the southern city of Kandahar, the province of Nimroz in the north, the southeastern provinces of Paktia, Paktika, and Logar as well as the mayor of Nangarhar in the east, and security officials in the area around the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Akbar said Karzai had also abolished security zones established by local commanders and warlords, and disbanded three provincial brigades of holy warriors formed during the 10-year Soviet occupation.

Akbar warned the dismissals could lead to unrest as "no one will want to leave voluntarily." He said the government was prepared to use, "other means" if those dismissed refused to vacate their posts.

Akbar said among those fired were the directors of customs, agriculture, and public works.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's former king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, inaugurated a special committee today, tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country. The nine-member committee, headed by Vice President Nayiamatullah Shahrani, will prepare a preliminary draft and submit it to a constitutional commission.