One of the main parties behind Afghanistan's Western-backed government warned President Ashraf Ghani that it could withdraw its support unless he reversed the dismissal of one of its most powerful regional governors this week.
The warning from the Jamiat-e Islami party came after Ghani removed Atta Mohammad Noor as governor of Balkh, a strategic northern province bordering Afghanistan's Central Asian neighbors Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Describing the dismissal as a "unilateral decision" by Ghani, Jamiat's leadership called into question the legitimacy of the unity government formed after a disputed presidential election of 2014. "If the presidential palace does not reconsider its one-sided action which is misusing the presence of the international community, Jamiat-e Islami will nullify the national unity government agreement and will employ all options to defend the legitimate rights of the people," the party leadership said in a statement. The man named as Atta Noor's replacement, Mohammad Daoud, also from Jamiat, said he would not take up the position until the situation had been resolved. "I want to stay out of it for now," he told Reuters. The standoff adds to an already clouded political climate in Afghanistan, where the United States has announced a stepped-up military effort to break a stalemate with the Taliban and force a settlement to 16 years of conflict. Long-delayed parliamentary elections, officially scheduled for next year, are now in doubt and an array of political leaders both inside and outside the government are positioning themselves ahead of a presidential election in 2019.
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