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Karzai planning Afghan government shakeup?

Aug. 29, 2012 at 4:20 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- An Afghan analyst says President Hamid Karzai's rumored changes in his government suggest he is trying to consolidate his position.

Unnamed western officials told The New York Times Wednesday they have been advised by the president's top advisers Karzai plans a major shakeup in his security services. One of Karzai's supposed moves would make Bismillah Khan Mohammedi head of the Defense Ministry weeks after Parliament voted to remove him as interior minister.

The advisers said Karzai will name Ghulam Mujtaba Patang, a long-serving police officer, as interior minister. Another possible move would make Asadullah Khalid, a former governor of Kandahar currently serving as minister of border and tribal affairs, head of the intelligence service. Khalid, an ethnic Pashtun like Karzai, has been accused of maintaining private dungeons and of ordering the killing of U.N. employees to protect his narcotics interests.

Johid Kohistani, a Kabul security analyst, said Karzai appears to be looking forward to 2014 when his second five-year term as president expires. He is barred by term limits from running again.

"With this cabinet reshuffling, President Karzai is trying to consolidate his grip on power," Kohistani said. "He is not thinking only about his remaining two years in office. He has long-term plans, and this reshuffling is just the first step. Indeed, he wants to have full control over all government apparatuses to make sure that whoever from his team runs for president in the upcoming elections wins."

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