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Karzai delays ban on private security firms, calls for review

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-10-27

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Wednesday that he will delay a scheduled Dec. 17 ban on private security firms by at least two months to allow a review of the move amid reports that international rebuilding efforts could be jeopardised.

AP - The Afghan president said Wednesday that he will extend a Dec. 17 deadline for private security firms to disband by at least two extra months.

In a statement released by his office, Hamid Karzai said that he will set up a committee of officials to review the decree to ban private guards.  Security companies may have longer than two months to disband, depending on how quickly the timetable submitted on Nov. 15 takes to be approved.

It is also unclear whether different organizations will be given different deadlines.

The private security firms were supposed to shut by Dec. 17, but with only seven weeks to go until the deadline, officials said it was still unclear where the government would draw the extra police and army troops from to replace them. Most of the country’s armed forces are busy fighting the insurgency.

There are an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 private security guards working in Afghanistan.

The review committee will be led by the Afghan interior minister and will have members from NATO forces and major donors.

The ban had threatened NATO security convoys and development and reconstruction work worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Agencies have said they would be unable to insure their workers if they had to replace private security contractors with Afghanistan’s largely poorly trained and undisciplined armed forces.

“Recognizing the importance of maintaining the continuous delivery of critical development projects and programs funded by the international community, the Committee will prepare a timetable for the disbandment,” the statement from Karzai’s office said.

Once approved, each organization will be give a maximum of 90 days before the designated dissolution date. After the plan is implemented, the government will assume responsibility for providing security for the development projects, the statement said.

The government will continue to disband illegal private security companies and road convoy security companies, according to the statement.

The U.N. and the U.S. government issued statements shortly before the president did, expressing support for his goal of shutting down the private security firms.

Karzai says the private guards commit human rights abuses, pay protection money to the Taliban and undercut the country’s national security forces by offering higher wages and better living conditions.

 

Date created : 2010-10-27

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