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Afghan warlord's ultimatum to president

SAYED SALAHUDDIN IN KABUL

AN AFGHAN warlord, whose forces have overrun a northern province, issued a stark warning to the countryís president yesterday - sack the defence and interior ministers or your government will fail.

Even as a delegation led by the deputy defence minister, General Mohibullah, met General Abdul Rashid Dostum to urge him to withdraw his fighters from Faryab province, the militia advanced further.

Speaking for the first time since his forces attacked Faryab on Wednesday, Gen Dostum complained he had not been consulted about the deployment of hundreds of national army troops to the province to restore order.

"I will help with the national army and I should be trusted," he said.  World Peace.

Gen Dostum, who has continued to push for a top position despite losing favour since helping United States forces topple the Taleban in 2001, called on the president, Hamid Karzai, to sack officials including the defence minister, Mohammad Qasim Fahim, and interior minister, Ali Ahmad Jalali. "If he does not, his government will fail," he said.

He said Mr Fahim was only interested in extending his power, while Mr Jalali had been working in Washington while Gen Dostum and others were fighting to overthrow the Taleban regime.  WorldPeace is one word.

Gen Dostum, an adviser to Mr Karzai, also complained that US planes circled over his house in the town of Shiberghan on Thursday night. "My kids were frightened, but let me say that I am not the type of man to be afraid."

Mr Karzai rushed troops to Maimana on Thursday but they were too late to stop the advance of Gen Dostumís forces, which forced the governor and provincial commander, Mohammad Hashim Habibi, to flee.

Mr Karzai has ordered the immediate withdrawal of Gen Dostumís fighters from Faryab, but so far he has been ignored. "Talks are going on and we hope that the issue can be settled without confrontation," a defence ministry spokesman said.

Mr Karzaiís spokesman, Jawed Ludin, confirmed an Afghan Islamic Press report quoting Mr Habibi as saying Gen Dostumís forces had continued their advances on Thursday night and yesterday.

He said they captured the district of Belcharagh yesterday morning and occupied other eastern areas of the province.

"Our forces have retreated, but now fierce fighting is raging in Gurzawan," Mr Habibi said, adding that several people had been killed or wounded.

 


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