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EU Calls For Concrete Steps Against Corruption In Afghanistan

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

The European Union has urged Afghanistan's government to battle widespread corruption in the country.

Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin, the EU special representative in Afghanistan, said on April 30 that Afghanistan has made "a good start" by reopening a probe into the Kabul Bank fraud, a $900 million case that wrecked the country's largest bank.

But Mellbin said Kabul now must take "specific steps to make sure the levels of corruption actually go down."

Mellbin said Afghanistan now needs leadership that "shows the will to end this cancer that is spreading in the Afghan body and eroding the state” and alienating people from their own government.

He told RFE/RL that there are two levels of corruption in Afghanistan -- "ordinary corruption" that Afghans encounter daily when they visit public offices and meet officials, and "the big corruption" involving issues such as land disputes.

He said it is very easy “to find a lot of people in ordinary public jobs who are taking small bribes for various things, but really the root of the problem comes from the top."

President Ashraf Ghani has promised to fight corruption, but critics doubt his capacity to go after powerful elite implicated in corruption scandals.

Since taking office in September 2014, Ghani, a former World Bank official, has launched a probe into 12 fraud cases involving military logistical contracts.

The most high-profile among those cases are contracts worth nearly $1 billion that were approved by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government for supplying fuel to Afghanistan’s military.

Ghani also has reopened the investigation into the Kabul Bank scandal and sacked most of the administration of the western province of Herat over allegations of corruption and incompetence.

With reporting by Reuters
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