Governor of eastern Afghan province sacked as security worsens

KABUL (Reuters) - The provincial governor of Nangarhar has been dismissed as part of an administrative shakeup in a region of Afghanistan where security has sharply deteriorated amid allegations of widespread corruption among officials.

The departure of Mohammad Gulab Mangal was announced on Sunday in a short message by his spokesman which said only that he had decided to go for personal reasons. President Ashraf Ghani’s office confirmed on Monday that his resignation had been accepted.

He will be replaced by the current governor of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, Hayatullah Hayat.

“Mangal could not perform the job the way that the central government and people of Nangarhar were expecting,” said a government official in Kabul who is close to the dossier but who was not authorised to talk to the media.

Prior to becoming Nangarhar governor in Oct. 2016, Mangal enjoyed a high reputation among Western officials for his competence in a previous post when he also served as governor of Helmand, a Taliban heartland and source of much of Afghanistan’s illegal opium crop.

But local officials in Nangarhar said he had failed to tackle endemic corruption in the province, which includes the Torkham border post, the main crossing point into Pakistan for both goods and people as well as major smuggling routes.

“In Nangarhar, if five afghani goes to the smugglers, three of these will go to the provincial officials’ office,” said Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the local provincial council.

The local version of Islamic State has its main stronghold in Nangarhar and security in the province has been fragile with two major attacks in Jalalabad so far this year, the most recent on Sunday when gunmen stormed a government building and at least 15 people were killed.

Reporting by Qadir Sediqi; writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Riochard Balmforth