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Iran Press TV

Key Afghan politicians urge return of Vice President Dostum

Iran Press TV

Tue Aug 1, 2017 4:20PM

Prominent political figures in Afghanistan have called on the government to allow retired General Abdul Rashid Dostum, a vice president, to return home from Turkey.

Atta Mohammad Noor, the powerful governor of Afghanistan's Balkh province, said on Tuesday that Dostum had the right to return to Afghanistan and take on his responsibilities as vice president.

"We ask for the unconditional return of the first Vice President to Afghanistan and for him to resume his office," Noor told a demonstration in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, located near the border with Uzbekistan.

Dostum, a senior figure of Afghanistan's ethnic Uzbek community, left the country for medical treatment in May. That came after elements in the government of President Ashraf Ghani accused Dostum of an assault on a rival politician. The United States backed the accusations, although the retired general denies any involvement in the case, which had to do with alleged torture and sexual abuse.

Ghani's office has yet to comment on reports that it is trying to block the return of Dostum. The Afghan vice president allegedly took a plane destined for Mazar-i-Sharif earlier this month but the plane was turned away before landing.

That came after Dostum held a meeting in Turkey with Noor, a prominent leader of Afghanistan's Tajik community, and Mohammad Mohaqiq, a leader of the country's Hazaras. Reports said the three had agreed on forming a potential opposition group called the "Coalition for the Salvation of Afghanistan".

Ghani's alleged refusal to allow the return of Dostum has sparked fresh concerns that the president is helping widen sectarian rifts that once plagued efforts to reach peace in Afghanistan. Ghani heads a national unity government that was formed after disputed elections in 2014.

Mohaqiq, who serves as the deputy chief executive in the unity government, slammed the West's support for Ghani in Dostum's case, saying the former military man has been a key figure in mobilizing Afghanistan's ethnic Uzbeks behind the government.

"I ask the international community, the United States of America and Europe, if General Dostum was a bad man, why he was good before the elections?" said Mohaqiq, adding, "Why was he accepted as first vice president if you oppose him now?"

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