Middle East

Afghan leader rejects resignation of spy chief, top ministers

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has turned down the resignations of three senior security officials and ordered them to find ways to halt militant attacks. The trio had offered to quit over rising violence in the country.

President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday urged Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak, Defense Minister Tareq Shah Bahrami, and intelligence chief Masoum Stanekzai to stay in their posts, the Afghan government said.

The three officials submitted resignation letters on Saturday, citing policy differences and a spate of deadly attacks.

“President Ghani did not approve their resignations… and gave them the necessary instructions to improve the security situation,” a statement from the presidential palace said.

The offers to step down followed the resignation of Ghani’s national security adviser and close ally, Hanif Atmar, on Friday. Atmar, one of the country’s most powerful politicians, has been replaced by former ambassador to the US Hamdullah Mohib.

Atmar has been a mainstay in Afghan politics since the late 1980s, when he began his security career under the Soviet Union-backed government. He served as interior minister under former President Hamid Karzai and had been the country’s top security official under Ghani since 2014.

Afghan local TV station Tolo News reported Saturday that his resignation was a result of his disagreements with the government on issues such as national unity, peace and security, as well as regional and international relations.

Slew of resignations

The security situation in Afghanistan has rapidly deteriorated over the past few months. A number of recent deadly attacks by the Taliban and suspected “Islamic State” militants, including a rocket attack on the presidential palace in Kabul, have shaken the nation.

On Saturday, at least two people were killed and four others wounded when a suicide bomber attacked the office of the Election Commission in eastern Nangarhar province. Afghanistan is set to hold parliamentary elections on October 20, which has elevated the risk of attacks throughout the country.

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