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Sunday, February 7, 1999 Published at 12:31 GMT

World: Europe

Islamist vice-president defies Chechen leader

The Islamist Vice-President of Chechnya, Vakha Arsanov, who was sacked by a presidential decree abolishing his post on Thursday, has said he will not leave office unless President Aslan Maskhadov also steps down.

Mr Arsanov, who was speaking at a news conference in the Chechen capital, Grozny, said the republic's top Islamic body, the Shura, should be allowed to select a new national leadership to transform Chechnya into an Islamic state.

Mr Arsanov defected in December to the opposition, which is agitating for a new Islamist constitution, introducing Sharia law.

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