Balkh protestors ask acting governor to step down
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Hundreds of people on Saturday staged a protest rally in northern Balkh province, demanding removal of the acting governor.
Led by some provincial council members, the demonstration emerged from the Firdausi square in Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital, and culminated in front of the provincial council office.
The protestors carried national flags and pictures of the acting governor, Atta Mohammad Noor, who has held on to power for more than a decade.
They chanted slogans like “we want end to the rule of a single party, the acting governor be removed and we want a governor not linked to a particular group.”
Deputy head of the provincial council, and member of Junbish-i-Milli Islami party, Shujauddin Shuja, one of the rally organizers, told the protestors in his address that they had gathered in protest against injustices in the province.
“You know the power is monopolized in Balkh, through which a single group is accumulating wealth.”
Shuja once again referred to the alleged illegal distribution of weapons and said their protest was against such issues.
He urged the central government to remove the acting governor and appointment his replacement who was merciful, judicious and one who had good and close relations with all tribes.
Former provincial council chief Mohammad Ibrahim Khairandesh, who also attended the protest rally, addressed the governor and said: “You deceived the people of Balkh for the past 14 years, now stop it.”
He accused the governor of doing nothing to strengthen security in Balkh and said people themselves maintained security of the province.
He also claimed the governor made various attempts to prevent the protest demonstration, but the justice seeking protestors could not be scared and they came out.
He also said unbalanced development activities took place in Balkh and there were some areas south, east and west of Maza-i-Sharif, where no development projects had been launched.
Another provincial council member, Mohammad Asif Momand, said: “We no longer want an acting governor. Respected governor of Balkh please resign.”
He said they were not inferior creatures and the gathering showed their demands were just. He said the people of Balkh could no longer tolerate injustices they endured over the past 14 years.
An emotional Asif Momand said: “If the governor does not resign, we will protest again and again.”
A participant of the protest demonstration, Mohammad Mir, told Pajhwok Afghan News that he took part in the rally to demand justice for the people.
“We demand electricity and roads. Roads are built to areas where no one lives, but where people live there are dust roads.”
The protest came to an end with the release of an eight-article resolution that demanded unconditional resignation of the acting governor.
In their resolution, the protestors asked the central government to send a powerful delegation to Balkh to investigate the affairs.
The spokesman for the acting governor was not available for comment on the protest. But yesterday, Munir Farhad told Pajhwok Afghan News that peaceful protest was everyone’s legal right.
He had spurned as baseless the allegations leveled by the provincial council members about the existence of privately-run jails, the distribution of arms to unauthorized people and the involvement of government officials in land-grabbing.
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