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Cablegate: Prt Farah Farah City Mayor Sacked Over

VZCZCXRO2794
PP RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #3216/01 2000444
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 190444Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1437
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//JF/UNMA//
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC//J3//
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003216

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CT
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A, CG CJTF-76, POLAD
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
REL NATO/AU/NZ/ISAF

SIPDIS, SENSITIVE

E.O.: 12958 N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KCOR AF
SUBJECT: PRT FARAH FARAH CITY MAYOR SACKED OVER
CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

REF: A) 2005 PRT WEEKLY - DECEMBER 10 B) KABUL 3090

1. (SBU) Summary: On July 10, Farah business
representatives joined members of the Provincial Council
and visiting Parliamentarians demanding Deputy Governor
Juma Ghanghor dismiss Mayor of Farah City, Besmellah
Khan, amid constant allegations of corruption. Local
merchants also protested against Khan, closing almost all
stores throughout the day. Ghanghor responded by sacking
the mayor. He then appointed Mohammed Hashim as interim
mayor to oversee the Deputy Mayor. This is the first
time citizens of Farah have used peaceful demonstration
as a mechanism for political change. End Summary.

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2. (SBU) On July 10, representatives of Farahs business
community approached the Provincial Council during a
meeting with visiting Parliament members Nafas Gul
Khetmet and Manur Mussa demanding the dismissal of Mayor
of Farah City Besmellah Khan. They claim to have
repeatedly discussed allegations of corruption with
Governor Issatullah Wasifi to no avail. They blame
Wasifis lack of action on his strong friendship with
Khan, and their joint corruption activities. Wasifi left
the province approximately one month ago and told EmbOff
he will return approximately July 15.

Allegations of Corruption
-------------------------------

3. (SBU) Allegations of corruption against Khan include
collection of funds from Farahs businessmen as taxes
since their stores are on public land. Khan allegedly
pockets 50 percent and gives the other half to Wasifi.
Provincial Council member Belquis Roshan charged that
Khan sold government land at exorbitant prices and again
shared the proceeds with the Governor. Choice parcels of
land worth around 3,000 Afghanis (AFs) are often sold for
between 50-60,000 AFs.

4. (SBU) The District Attorneys (DA) office recently
dismissed allegations against Khan including a secret
relationship with members of the Iranian government and
the Taliban. Khan allegedly provided information to the
GoI and/or the Taliban in return for payment. The DAs
office was unable to prove the case. A widespread and
oft repeated allegation was he drained the official
coffers for personal use - specifically embezzling funds
earmarked for road maintenance. (Note: See PRT weekly
kly
report of Dec 10, 2005 when Khan told PRTOff he
misplaced approximately 300,000USD, would not initiate
an investigation into the missing funds, and requested
funding for industrial construction equipment including a
bulldozer and land-grading equipment for Farah City. End
note.)

5. (SBU) Other nefarious activity may include Khans
involvement with the abduction of Director of Customs
Abdul Ghani Turabi. Turabi was appointed Director of
Customs five months ago. Since then he has increased
customs revenues from a monthly average of five million
AFs to 32 million AFs in June. Turabi was seen in a
heated argument with Khan just hours before the
abduction.

Iranian Implications
------------------------

6. (SBU) Not all Provincial Council members agreed to
request Khans removal. Provincial Council member
Hangama Sadeet wanted to retain Khan as the mayor at
least until Iranian engineers complete their site
assessments for four development projects (vocational
nal
school, clinic, road and electric importation) scheduled

KABUL 00003216 002 OF 002


to commence shortly (ref B). She told PRTOff that Khan
was instrumental in facilitating the Iranian expansion;
without him Farah might lose contracts and projects.

No Immediate Arrest Expected
-------------------------------------

7. (SBU) District Attorney Abdul Kadus called for Khans
arrest pending investigation, but the Deputy Governor
intervened, stating Khan was considered under guarantee
by Governor Wasifi and would remain free on his own
recognizance. Ghanghor told PRTOff he wanted to wait for
the return of Governor Wasifi, but when the large, angry
group descended upon his office, he felt compelled to
act. He did stand up to the crowd when they also asked
him to dismiss Dr. Qasim Bayan, Farahs Director of
Health, for corruption and poor performance.

8.(SBU) Comment: Passive protest has not been used
before in Farah, to the best of PRTOffs knowledge.
Prior demonstrations took the form of marches punctuated
ated
by loud speeches and threats of violence. Credit may go
to Provincial Council member Sadeet, who calmed the mob
that was threatening to take action. With such obvious
ties to Iran, it was surprising no one considered Khan a
flight risk. He was in Mashad and Birjand, Iran, late
Dec, 2005 and was a member of the delegation that
traveled across the border July 2 to finalize details.
Strangely, there is no indication the scandal will spill
over to the Governor. No one suggested his removal or
sanctioning despite his being jointly implicated in many
corruption schemes. Another complicating factor is the
sad fact Farah Province has only two defense lawyers. As
cases cannot come to trial without a defense lawyer the
case may take years or never come to court. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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