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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 May 2007, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Afghan FM dismissed over refugees
Rangin Dadfar-Spanta
Dr Dadfar-Spanta was not popular with former mujahideen
Afghanistan's foreign minister has been sacked by the country's parliament for failing to stop the deportation of 52,000 Afghan refugees from Iran.

Dr Rangin Dadfar-Spanta, a Western-educated technocrat, was removed from his post after losing a no-confidence vote in the lower house.

The minister for refugee affairs, Ustad Akbar, was also sacked on Thursday for failing to accommodate the refugees.

President Hamid Karzai now has two weeks to propose their replacements.

Parliament will then vote to approve or reject his candidates.

'Political excuse'

Dr Dadfar-Spanta received 141 votes of no-confidence in the 249-member lower house, the Wolasi Jerga, in a second round of voting on Saturday.

In the first round on Thursday, when Mr Akbar was dismissed, the foreign minister received 124 votes, plus one spoilt ballot.

File photograph of Afghan refugees in Iran
There are millions of Afghan refugees living abroad

The parliamentarians had been angered by Mr Dadfar-Spanta's perceived failure to persuade Tehran to ease its policy of deportation, which has seen 52,000 Afghans flood over the border into eastern Afghanistan between 21 April and 8 May.

Iran says it has the right of every country to send home illegal workers, of whom there are estimated to be more than a million.

Although the influx appears to have slowed in the past few days, the sheer scale and speed of the deportations initially caused problems.

The UN found there was simply not enough food, water or health facilities on the Afghan side of the border to cope with the refugees. They have now been provided.

The BBC's Alistair Leithead in Kabul says that although the refugees arrived in large numbers and in a short space of time, this does happen every year and it is being seen as the excuse political opponents have been waiting for to effectively impeach Dr Dadfar-Spanta.

His perceived Maoist background meant he was not a popular choice for the former mujahideen commanders now in parliament, our correspondent says.


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