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Afghanistan

Karzai offers compromise on private security firms

Tony Cross/RFI

President Hamid Karzai Sunday signalled that he may backtrack on a blanket ban on private security firms, asking the foreign community for a list of projects needing protection.

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Foreign governments and aid agencies protested that development projects could not work without adequate protection after Karzai ordered all private security companies be disbanded. 

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

Companies claimed that millions of euros-worth of aid projects would be lost, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

The Afghan government had already partially rolled back the ban, allowing private protection to continue for diplomats and foreign military bases.

Private security firms in Afghanistan are employed by US and Nato forces, the Pentagon, the United Nations, aid and non-governmental organisations, embassies and foreign media.

They employ about 26,000 registered personnel, though experts say the real number could be as high as 40,000.

In a meeting with representatives of the foreign community - including UN representative Staffan de Mistura, Nato civilian representative Mark Sedwill and commander of foreign forces US General David Petraeus - Karzai appears to have offered a compromise.

While "underlining that the government of Afghanistan remained steadfast in its decision to dissolve private security contractors," it asked them to name projects in need of protection, a statement from his office said.

Washington on Friday called on Karzai's government to find a solution that would allow the transitional use of private security guards, in the hope that development projects would not be closed down.

 

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