Aides of Afghan government’s chief could withdraw support




KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Key allies of Afghanistan's chief executive could withdraw their support for the government unless the country's president meets their camp's key demands, one of the associates said on Friday.

The threat by Abdullah Abdullah's backers is the latest in a political crisis stemming from a U.S.-brokered power-sharing deal between President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah.

The deal, negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, followed the fractious 2014 elections and resulted in a unity government of the two Afghan leaders.

Amrullah Saleh, a former head of the national intelligence agency who now leads the grassroots Green Trend party, told The Associated Press that Abdullah's allies are standing firm on their demands. They are seeking sweeping reforms and want Ghani to stop "micro-managing" the government and "consolidating personal power."

He said his camp also accused Ghani of side-lining Abdullah from the decision-making process. "If President Ghani thinks that he (Abdullah) will continue to tolerate this, he will not," Saleh said.

The relationship between Ghani and Abdullah has been tense since they formed the unity government, with each vetoing the other's Cabinet choices.

Javid Faisal, Abdullah's deputy spokesman, said that while the two had appeared at meetings together, they had not had face-to-face meetings for three months.

Key elements of the unity deal, such as holding a nationwide assembly on changing the constitution to formally appoint Abdullah as prime minister and holding parliamentary and local elections have been delayed.

Saleh said Ghani's "indifference" to Abdullah is no longer "acceptable." He warned that if Abdullah's camp pulls out of the government, the "consequences would not be good for the country."

Afghanistan is battling the Taliban, with the insurgency — now in its 15th year — intensifying in the southern Helmand province in recent weeks.
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