Western governments call for investigation of Afghan vice president

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 13, 2016 7:19 AM

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's Western allies called on Tuesday the government to investigate allegations that a vice president, Abdul Rashid Dostum, had been involved in assaulting and abducting a political rival last month.

Dostum, a former warring faction commander with a notorious reputation and a lingering power base in northern Afghanistan, is accused of beating a rival, Ahmad Ishchi, before having the man taken away and detained.

In a post online after the incident, Dostum denied abducting Ishchi, saying he was in police custody. Dostum's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday, as word of Ishchi's release came, delegations from the United States, Britain, European Union, and other governments called for a thorough investigation of the incident.

"The unlawful detention and reported mistreatment of Mr Ishchi by the First Vice President raises serious concerns," the U.S. Embassy said in a statement. 

"We would welcome the Afghan government’s move to swiftly investigate these allegations."

The E.U., along with Australia, Canada, and Norway, also called for a "fair and transparent official investigation" into the reports of "gross human rights violations and abuses".

Dostum joined Afghanistan's National Unity Government in 2014 in a bid by President Ashraf Ghani to attract the support of his mostly ethnic Uzbek constituency, but allegations of past human rights violations have been a source of controversy.

Warring factions brought bloody chaos to Afghanistan after they forced the withdrawal of Soviet occupying forces in 1989. In the 1990s, many Afghans initially welcomed the rise of the Taliban who defeated and largely banished the "warlord" factions.

But some old faction commanders have made a comeback to positions of influence since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, to the dismay of many ordinary Afghans.

(Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Robert Birsel)