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North Afghan City Shut Down Amid Spat Between Powerful Ex-Governor, President

14 Mar 2019 Radio Free Europe

Residents in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif have gone on a daylong strike to protest the appointment of a new provincial police chief.

The March 14 development threatened to escalate into an all-out feud between Atta Mohammad Noor, the powerful former governor of Balkh Province, and President Ashraf Ghani.

The incumbent provincial police chief, General Akram Sami, said his replacement, Abdul Raqib Mobarez, had landed at the airport in Mazar-e Sharif but that police were blocking him from heading into the provincial capital to take up his post.

Noor has called for the shutdown of Mazar-e Sharif, demanding that Ghani withdraw Mubarez's appointment and name instead his choice for the post -- as the Afghan president allegedly promised.

Deputy Interior Minister Khoshal Sadat tweeted that Ghani appointed Mobarez as the new provincial police chief due to "the worsening security situation of Balkh province."

Mobarez "will be accompanied by Special Forces units. The situation is controlled & nothing to be worried about. Additional forces will also soon reach Balkh. H.E President @ashrafghani decree will be implemented without any delay or hesitation," he wrote in a separate tweet.

Noor, who for months had rejected Ghani's efforts to remove him from office, in March 2018 agreed to resign as governor of Balkh after 14 years in the post.

Noor is a leading figure in Jamiat-e Islami, a party that represents Afghanistan's Tajik minority.

With reporting by AP

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