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Afghanistan

Afghan president fires five governors en masse

The Afghan leader has sacked almost a third of his governors in a presumed attempt to crackdown on corruption. But the dismissal of the governor of Helmand is likely to worry those concerned about the region's security.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai on Thursday fired five governors, including the governor of Helmand province, a key Western ally in one of the south's most volatile regions.

“We hope that the new changes bring good governance and reforms in the provinces and affect the daily lives of Afghans," said Rafi Ferdous from the government's Office of Administrative Affairs, who announced the changes.

Karzai's leadership clean-up amounts to the dismissal of figureheads in almost a third of the country's provinces.

The move has been interpreted as an attempt by the country's president to demonstrate to foreign donors that he is serious about cracking down on corruption and nepotism.

Concerns about Helmand

Gulab Mangal, a former army general who governs the restive Helmand province, is being replaced by General Naeem Valoch, who advises the country's spy organization and is a strong ally to Karzai's inner circle.

"General Naeem Baloch who has great working experience and efficiency in administrative affairs has been appointed as new governor of Helmand," Ferdous said, in reference to the replacement of Mangal.

Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand province, photographed during a meeting with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, not seen, at Camp Bastion, outside Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand province, July 4, 2011. Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis, pool/AP/dapd)

Helmand's Gulab Mangal is being replaced

Mangal's departure is likely to perturb foreign donors, however, as the Helmand chief had been important to NATO security plans for the province.

The political upheaval also comes at a tense time for Helmand. Last week insurgents launched an attack on a major NATO base in the province. The incident left two foreign soldiers dead and displayed Helmand's continued vulnerability.

The other governors sacked by Karzai were those overseeing the provinces of Kabul and Badghis in the west, Nimroz located in the south and Wardak, south of Kabul. They were relieved of their posts for being "incompetent," an anonymous official said.

Karzai also reshuffled four further governorships - in the regions of Faryab and Takhar in the north of the country and Laghman and Logar, near Kabul.

sej/ipj (Reuters, AFP)