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Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 18:13 GMT
Afghan warlords accept Karzai decree
Fighters of warlord Atta Mohammad's militia lay down arms
Several regional militias have agreed to disarm
Representatives of two of Afghanistan's regional leaders have signalled their acceptance of President Hamid Karzai's decree banning senior politicians from taking part in military activities.

Of course we accept the decree - the discussion is whether to keep civil or military positions

General Dostum's spokesman
A spokesman for Gul Agha Sherzai, the governor of Kandahar, told the BBC he welcomed the decision as good for the stability of Afghanistan.

An official representing the powerful northern leader, Abdul Rashid Dostum, said he, too, would accept the decree.

President Karzai issued the decree on Monday in the first major step to rein in Afghan warlords who control armed militias and have been accused of weakening Kabul's authority.

Significant loss

"We obey all verdicts and decisions and orders of the central government," said Khalid Pashtun, Mr Sherzai's spokesman.

General Abdul Rashid Dostum
Mr Dostum is yet to decide which post to keep
"We have told President Karzai several times we are ready to obey anything he orders," Mr Pashtun was quoted by the AFP agency as saying.

Noorullah Agah, an aide to General Dostum, made a similar comment.

"Of course we accept the decree from the central government," he said. "The discussion is whether to keep civil or military positions."

General Dostum's militia commands large tracts of northern Afghanistan and the decree is expected to affect his authority substantially.

First step

However, not all of Afghanistan's powerful regional leaders, who command large armed groups, have responded to the decree.

Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan has not yet responded to the decree
There has so far been no word from Ismail Khan, the powerful self-styled "emir" or governor of western Herat province.

Correspondents say since the former Taleban rulers were ousted by US-led forces, warlords have used their militias to assert regional control and resolve disputes.

The BBC's Kylie Morris in Kabul says the decree, which comes into immediate effect, could become an important first step towards changing that.


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16 Dec 02 | South Asia
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