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Afghan President Announces Government Shakeup

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has announced that Assadullah Khalid, the former head of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS), as the country's defense minister and Amrullah Saleh, also a former intelligence chief, as interior minister.

Ghani made the announcement in a December 23 decree in which he asked the parliamentary affairs minister to send the nominations for approval to Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament, known as the Wolesi Jirga.

No official reason was given for the shakeup.

Khalid and Saleh both served as heads of NDS under former President Hamid Karzai.

Both men have blamed Pakistan for the Taliban's resurgence in recent years and have called for it to be declared a state sponsor of terror.

Khalid was badly injured in an assassination attempt in Kabul in 2012.

Ghani’s announcement comes ahead of Afghanistan’s presidential election scheduled for April 2019.

It also comes amid reports that the United States is planning to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan.

With reporting by the BBC, and Tolo News

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