Ex-Northern Alliance leader accepts appointment in Kabul

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has appointed Abdul Rashid Dostum, the country's Deputy Defence Minister and an ethnic Uzbek, a special adviser on military issues and security problems, relieving him simultaneously of his previous post, SANA news agency reported on Friday.

Dostum has already accepted the appointment.

Political observers' opinion on the subject vary; some believe that once he moves to Kabul, the influential Uzbek leader will be able to ensure law and order in the northern provinces, with their ongoing clashes and fights for power between competitive ethnic groups, and undertake the task of disarming field commanders and their people. Uzbek, Hazara and Tajik field commanders are fighting for control over certain parts of Balkh, the province where Dostum was Governor before his new appointment, Jawzjan, and Samangan.

Local analysts, however, assume that Dostum's deployment in Kabul /his new appointment binds him to the capital/ is Karzai's first real move towards the tightening of control over provinces and their leaders. Earlier, Karzai was heard saying he would resign unless he managed to put an end to the self-authorized activity of the regional elite, whose loyalty to the new Kabul authorities is purely nominal.

Detachments led by General Dostum, once a Northern Alliance leader, used to take an active part in the struggle against Taliban.

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