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Afghanistan: Government Changes Governors In Restive Provinces

Kabul, 13 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The Afghan government reshuffled two provincial governors today, whose provinces have been difficult for Kabul to control. State-run Kabul television said the governor of Kandahar Province, Gul Agha Shayrzai, was made minister of urban development replacing Yusof Pashtun, who is now governor of Kandahar. Hamidullah Tokhi, the governor of Zabul Province, was appointed governor of Wardak Province.

Kabul television reported that Mohammad Ismail Khan, the governor of Herat Province, remains governor but has been relieved of his duties as military commander for Herat. Kabul television said a new military commander would be appointed soon.

The Afghan government has had problems extending control over some of the country's provinces. Herat has proven particularly difficult as Ismail Khan has been in power there for more than a decade and at one point during the Rabbani government declared Herat to be an independent state.

In other news, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi today urged the UN Security Council to authorize the expansion of international forces beyond Kabul, saying it is crucial to the success of the political reform process.

Brahimi said the expansion of forces was needed to ensure that the Bonn process, which envisions national elections next June, will permit what he called "fair political competition."

The UN envoy also said that poor security conditions in much of the country has stalled development activity, disrupting services to the public and threatening confidence in the peace process.

Brahimi welcomed the deployment of Provincial Reconstruction Teams outside of Kabul primarily by NATO states and said they will support the constitutional Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, in October. But he said a greater international security presence was needed to help the central government expand its authority.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte said there was an expectation that NATO might consider expanding its role outside of the capital in the months ahead. NATO took over command of the international force in Kabul this month.