Afghan attorney-general retains post despite presidential anger

KABUL Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:24am EDT

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul November 3, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood

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KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan Attorney-General Muhammad Isaaq Aloko has kept his job despite a decision by an angry President Hamid Karzai to sack him over an unauthorized approach to the Taliban, a senior Afghan official said on Tuesday.

The senior official and a member of parliament both said on Monday that Karzai had decided to dismiss Aloko after he held an unsanctioned meeting with Taliban peace negotiators in the United Arab Emirates.

Karzai had called for a dismissal notice, but after lengthy negotiations decided late on Monday not to sign the document, the official said.

"After a day of negotiations involving senior government officials and some cabinet ministers, President Karzai did not sign the letter that would have officially sacked the attorney general," the senior government official said.

The uproar is likely to add to concerns among the country's Western backers about political stability, especially after the NATO-led combat mission ends next year.

Peace talks between the Karzai administration and the Taliban are seen as crucial to averting intensified war after the NATO withdrawal.

Talks with the Taliban began in 2010 but they have been marked by a series of missteps, delays and allegations of plotting and interference.

The attorney-general's supporters in the cabinet told Karzai Aloko had met the Taliban negotiators in the UAE to discuss the fate of his brother, who had been kidnapped by the insurgents, and not the peace process.

"It was not a legal issue but a personal issue," said the official, when asked about the reason Karzai had not followed through on his decision to sack Aloko.

The kidnapping of Aloko's brother had been kept secret, but officials told Reuters attempts to negotiate his release had failed.

(Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Writing by Dylan Welch; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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