Former National Security Advisor and presidential candidate Mohammad Haneef Atmar on Monday said that government has started purging politicians as a move against President Ghani’s political rivals ahead of the elections.
“The government has started the illegal process of purging its political rivals in state institutions. This move is targeting the Peace and Moderation team and currently, at least 12 people who had relations with this team have been fired or forced to resign including [second deputy chief execute Mohammad] Mohaqiq, governors and some advisors,” said Atmar at a ceremony in Kabul on Monday.
President Ashraf Ghani last month issued a decree, removing a number of high-ranking officials, including Mohammad Mohaqiq, who still continues his job as the second deputy of chief executive.
President Ghani’s spokesman, Haroon Chakhansuri, said at a press briefing on Monday that government has fired the individuals based on its reform agenda and that the move does not have an electoral campaign motive.
Atmar’s election team is believed to be one of Ghani’s powerful rivals in the presidential elections set for July 20. Eighteen candidates, including Atmar, are running for president.
President Ghani last week signed off the amended election law based on which all members of the election commissions were dismissed.
Atmar said this move was a “unilateral decision” by the president.
He said presidential elections need to be held on time and should be independent and transparent.
According to him, government’s “monopoly” of elections needs to be ended and a reform package for elections has been submitted to government to overcome this problem.
On January 18, Atmar entered the race for presidential elections with former Vice President Mohammad Yunus Qanooni as his first Vice President and Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Mohaqiq as his second Vice President.
He has served as interior minister during former President Hamid Karzai’s government as well as the national security advisor to President Ghani.