MAZAR-I-SHARIF: Reacting to violent clashes between supporters of Abdul Rashid Dostum and Atta Mohammad Noor, President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday said protests were people’s right, but those restoring to violence would be dealt with sternly.
One person was killed and four others were wounded after supporters of First-Vice President Dostum and Balkh Governor Noor clashed in Maimana, the capital of northwestern Faryab province on Thursday.
In a statement from the Presidential Palace, President Ghani insisted such violent acts were unacceptable and stressed “completely peaceful protest demonstrations” in line with the Constitution and said those restoring to violence were violating the Constitution.
The president said the armed clash involving illegal armed men during the protest was clear violation of the country’s laws. He said the government not only wanted an end to the violence but it had directed security forces to deal with sternly with elements trying to take the law into their hands.
The statement said President Ghani had assigned an authorized delegation with investigating the incident and to identify the perpetrators and take legal action.
Over the past two days, Dostum’s supporters have been protesting in some northern provinces after the VP’s portraits were brought down from billboards in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, on the new year’s night.
Some protestors had accused men linked to the governor of Balkh of having hand in the move. However, Noor had rejected the assertion amid protests by his supporters.
Meanwhile, Noor on his Facebook page said their silence did not mean they were afraid and Dostum wrote the protests spilled over to other provinces after the Balkh leadership failed to respond to people’s demands.
Noor said he had asked his supporters to be calm. “But those who insult us on a daily basis and even throw fires in front of our people think our silence is because we’re afraid.”
The governor said he had advised the people of Kabul and Kohdaman to be patient and the brave people of the north to be calm.
Dostum on his Facebook wall urged his supporters to give time to the central and local governments to respond to their demands and call off protests until they received a positive response.
Noor said the peoples living in the laps of Hindu Kush mountains, Panjsher, Loye Kandahar, Kunar, Helmand, Khost, Paktia, Paktika and the entire people of the north and the northeast were awaiting his response to the protests and were expecting the “conspiracy” to be thwarted, otherwise they would also arise.
Dostum wrote he was abroad when came to know his supporters, particularly the youth, in Mazar-i-Sharif had some complaints and they demanded justice and legal action against elements harming ethnic harmony in reaction to the removal of his photos.
He said his supporters were expecting the Balkh leadership would take urgent measures to address people’s concerns, but the delay in doing so expanded the protests to other provinces. He said it was people’s right to take forwards their complaints through protests and in an independent way.
Dostum asked his followers to be clam while pursuing their demands and said Afghanistan at the moment needed brotherhood, peace and stability and urged the Afghans to stay firm on the path to peace and stability. -Pajhwok
THE PASHTUN TIMES