May 20, 2009 / 1:51 PM / 11 years ago

U.S. seeks Afghan executive post: Karzai spokesman

A helicopter flies over Afghan army soldiers at the site of a blast outside Kabul, May 20, 2009. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. authorities have urged President Hamid Karzai to create a new executive post to help improve day-to-day governance in Afghanistan, Karzai’s chief spokesman said Wednesday.

The matter was discussed during Karzai’s visit to Washington two weeks ago but the president “has made no decision” on it, spokesman Humayoun Hamidzada said.

“Among other subjects, during the president’s visit, the creation of an executive post was raised by some American authorities,” Hamidzada said.

Karzai’s office this week rejected a New York Times newspaper report that Afghan-born former U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad might be given a role akin to a “chief executive officer” of Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan is a sovereign country and takes its decisions in the light of the constitution and Afghans’ interests,” Hamidzada said.

Khalilzad served as former President George W. Bush’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations. Because of his influence, he was known by many Afghans as the “viceroy of Kabul” when he served as U.S. envoy in Afghanistan in 2003-05.

Karzai has been leading Afghanistan since the Taliban’s removal from power in 2001. He won the country’s first direct vote in 2001 and is widely seen as likely to be re-elected, despite waning popularity at home and abroad.

There is no constitutional role for a prime minister or “chief executive” in Afghanistan who could exercise authority independently of the president.

Editing by Paul Tait

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