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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Afghan ultimatum over corruption
Sibghatullah Mojaddedi
Mr Mojaddedi said President Karzai was not listening
The Speaker of the Afghan upper house of parliament has said he will resign if corrupt officials are not sacked.

Sibghatullah Mojaddedi wants an inquiry into the suspension of Kabul airport's security chief who accused officials of colluding with drug smugglers.

General Aminullah Amarkhel was removed from his post on Wednesday night. He says the move is part of a conspiracy.

Mr Mojaddedi said the government was appointing "weak" people and gave it two months to act or he would quit.

Respected cleric

The head of the upper house launched his attack on the government at a news conference in the capital, Kabul.

"I don't feel I can stay in the government any longer because President Karzai doesn't listen to me," he told reporters.

Kabul airport security commander Gen Aminullah Amarkhel
What crime did I commit? I still haven't been given a reason
Gen Aminullah Amarkhel,
Kabul airport security chief

And he criticised the government for suspending the Kabul airport security chief.

"One of the bad points about the government is they are hiring weak people and firing people like Gen Amarkhel."

The BBC's Payenda Sargand in Kabul says Mr Mojaddedi, a former president, is a senior Islamic cleric well respected by Afghans, President Hamid Karzai among them.

His comments are likely to strike a chord with people in a country where it is widely alleged there is a culture of impunity in drug smuggling, our correspondent adds.

Afghanistan accounts for about 90% of the world's production of opium poppies, from which the drug heroin is derived.

Threats

Earlier this year, Gen Amarkhel alleged that interior ministry officials had ordered the release of suspected drug smugglers.

Heroin taken out of luggage
Gen Amarkhel has seized 100kg of heroin in 18 months

Over the past 18 months he has detained 60 alleged drug smugglers. About 100kg of heroin was seized. Gen Amarkhel says he has received numerous death threats.

His suspension, he told the BBC, was part of a "mafia conspiracy" involving a large gang of drug dealers and traffickers.

"The government should clarify what I did wrong. What crime did I commit? I still haven't been given a reason."

He said he had been to see Interior Minister Zarar Ahmed Muqbil who had promised to speak to President Karzai.

Interior Ministry spokesman Zmarai Bashary told the BBC Gen Amarkhel had been removed from his post as part of measures "to improve airport security".

Last year, Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali resigned, saying he wanted to pursue his academic studies.

But government insiders said he quit because he wanted to be tough on drug dealers, especially those within the government, but this had not proven possible.




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