Exiled Afghan Vice President Dostum due to return home on Sunday

Afghan General Abdul Rashid Dostum speaks during an interview with Reuters. (Reuters)
Updated 21 July 2018
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Exiled Afghan Vice President Dostum due to return home on Sunday

  • Dostum would return home on a chartered aircraft
  • Accusations against him would be handled independently by the courts

KABUL: Afghanistan’s Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who left the country last year amid allegations of sexual abuse and torture, will return home on Sunday after more than a year in exile and resume his duties, officials said.
Government spokesman Haroon Chakansuri confirmed on Saturday that Dostum would return home on a chartered aircraft on Sunday and would be given an official reception. Accusations against him would be handled independently by the courts, he said.
“Legal issues are a matter for judicial authorities,” the spokesman told a news conference in Kabul.
The return of Dostum followed days of sometimes violent protests by supporters in northern Afghanistan over the arrest of a militia commander loyal to him. Officials said that negotiations for the return have been going on for weeks.
Chakansuri also said the commander, Nizamuddin Qaisari, who was arrested after a violent dispute with security officials in the northern province of Faryab, would stay in prison pending an investigation, while other militia commanders accused of abuses would be pursued.
Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek veteran of decades of Afghanistan’s bloody politics, faced outrage from Western donor countries including the United States after reports in 2016 that his guards had seized Ahmad Eshchi, a political rival and subjected him to beatings, torture and violent sexual abuse.
He denied Eshchi’s accusations but amid international demands that he be held accountable, he left the country in May last year, ostensibly to seek medical treatment in Turkey and has not returned since.
Once described by the US State Department as a “quintessential warlord” Dostum has for years faced accusations of serious human rights abuses, including killing Taliban prisoners by leaving them in sealed cargo containers.
He joined President Ashraf Ghani in the disputed 2014 elections, helping to deliver support from the ethnic Uzbek community in northern Afghanistan and his return from exile comes ahead of the next presidential election in early 2019.
Dostum’s expected return adds to an already volatile mix ahead of separate parliamentary elections in October that are seen as a dry run for the more important presidential elections next year.
Protesters calling for his return closed a number of voter registration offices and threatened to disrupt the parliamentary ballot, seen as a key test of Afghanistan’s political stability.
While in exile, he formed a loose coalition with Atta Mohammad Noor, the powerful former governor of Balkh province with wide support among ethnic Tajiks as well as Mohammad Mohaqiq, a leader of the Hazara minority.


Sudanese policeman dies from wounds after protesters stone vehicle

Updated 12 min 33 sec ago
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Sudanese policeman dies from wounds after protesters stone vehicle

KHARTOUM: A Sudanese policeman has died from his wounds after protesters threw stones at a police vehicle passing close to demonstrations in the capital Khartoum, a police spokesman said on Friday.
The vehicle was passing the area by chance late on Thursday, the spokesman said, adding that a number of suspects had been arrested.
The case brings the official death toll during protests that have spread since Dec. 19 across Sudan to 32, including three security personnel. An opposition-linked doctors’ syndicate said last week that 57 people had been killed in the protests.
“The vehicle was pelted with stones, and they were police returning from training and had no link to the dispersal of the unrest,” said police spokesman Hashem Ali.
Security forces dispersed protests close to the presidential palace in Khartoum on Thursday, rounding up several dozen of them and driving them away in pick up trucks, witnesses said.
On Friday police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of people who protested after leaving a mosque in Omdurman, across the Nile from central Khartoum, witnesses said.
The protesters had blocked a road with stones and branches chanting, “Down, that’s it!,” “Freedom, peace and justice,” and “The people’s choice is revolution.”
The protests were triggered by a deepening economic crisis and have become the most sustained popular challenge to President Omar Al-Bashir since he took power in a coup nearly 30 years ago.
The president and his ruling National Congress Party have shown no sign of bowing to demands to quit and have blamed the unrest on unnamed foreign agents.