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Afghan President Sacks Five Provincial Governors

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sacked five provincial governors in what was described as part of government's efforts to bring in reforms and fight corruption, officials said Thursday.

Among those sacked Thursday was Gulab Mangal, the governor of the volatile Helmand province in the south of the country. Mangal, a former army colonel, was in charge of Helmand province when US and British forces launched a major offensive two years ago to reclaim the region from the Taliban.

Mangal, a Pashtun from eastern Paktia province, had served in the interior and defence ministries when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in the late 1970s. Prior to becoming the governor of Helmand in 2006, he had served as governor of Paktia from 2004 to 2006 and Laghman from 2006 to 2008.

He is said to have good ties with the western powers involved in the Afghan conflict, particularly Britain. Soon after the news about Mangal's sacking emerged, the British embassy in Kabul said in a statement that he had "made a real difference to the life of ordinary Afghans in Helmand."

Mangal has been replaced by General Naeem Baloch, an army general who is currently working with the Afghan intelligence service. It is understood that the Afghan government is not planning an alternate post for Mangal.

The remaining four sacked were governors of the provinces of Kabul, Badghis, Nimroz and Wardak. In addition, the Afghan President appointed the governor of Baghlan province, Munshi Abdul Majeedas, his adviser and reshuffled four governors between the provinces of Faryab and Takhar as well as Laghman and Logar.

"We hope that the new changes bring good governance and reforms in the provinces and affect the daily lives of Afghans," a spokesman from the Office of Administrative Affairs stated while announcing the changes he said were aimed at removing corrupt or inept officials.

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