Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sacked five provincial governors, including a key Western ally in one of the most turbulent battlegrounds of the south, officials said Thursday.
Government insiders said the move was part of efforts to reform and fight corruption, but the dismissal of Mohammad Gulab Mangal in Helmand province could ruffle British and U.S. allies who considered him an important ally against the Taliban.
Mr. Mangal was sacked for "political reasons," according to a senior official in Mr. Karzai's office.
"He had lots of unnecessary relations, close relations with the foreigners which the president didn't like. He was suspected to be involved in corruption," the official said, on condition of anonymity.
The four other sacked governors – for the provinces of Kabul, Badghis in the west, Nimroz in the south and Wardak, south of Kabul, were dismissed for being "incompetent," the official said.
Another four governors were reshuffled between the provinces of Faryab and Takhar in the north, and Laghman and Logar, adjacent to Kabul.
Munshi Abdul Majeed, the governor of Baghlan, also in the north, was made an advisor to Mr. Karzai.
The government official said he had been moved because he is old. Taliban insurgents have increased their activities in Baghlan in recent years.
In July, Mr. Karzai admitted that his government was corrupt and issued a sweeping directive for reform ahead of the withdrawal of international troops in 2014.
The president – who has faced accusations he is part of the problem rather than its solution – called on the Supreme Court to "work on and finalise all the cases regarding administrative corruption, land-grabbing... within six months".
The government official, speaking to AFP, said that further reforms would be made.