UN Envoy urges anti-corruption action after release of convicted Afghan official

09:54, December 10, 2009      

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The top UN envoy to Afghanistan on Wednesday renewed his call for Afghan government to eliminate corruption, one day after the release of Kabul mayor despite his conviction of corruption charges.

"I think the international community needs to see action now and also the Afghan people need to see action now," Kai Eide, UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Afghanistan, told a press conference in Kabul on Wednesday.

Under mounting Western pressure, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to hold a national anti-corrupt conference in Kabul on Dec. 15-17, during which the creation of new entities will be discussed to fight corruption.

But Eide said the decisive element in order to fight corruption in Afghanistan is not the constant discussion of new mechanisms, structures or commissions, but a "political determination" to make use of them.

On Monday, Kabul Mayor Abdul Ahad Sahebi was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to four years in prison at a court. But Sahebi, who insists his innocence, was released on Wednesday and continued to run the city, sparking doubts about Karzai's determination to fight corruption.

On the same press conference with Eide, an Afghan official said the mayor's release did not violate the law.

"We would not allow anyone to influence the prosecution and ensure criminals to go unpunished," said Mohammad Yaseen Usmani, Executive Director of Afghan government's High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption.

Since Karzai was announced in early November the winner of Afghan presidential election, Western officials, including Eide, have urged him to eradicate corruption in his new government.

According to a report by Transparency International, Afghanistan is the second most corrupted country in the world, only after Somali.

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