New Governor takes charge in Herat
Herat, Sept. 13, 2004 - The new governor of Herat, Sayed Muhammad Khairkhwa, 51, started his first day at work expressing confidence that the violence in the city was over and would not be repeated. At least nine offices of the United Nations and other international organizations were looted and burned in the attacks.
As the new leader of Herat, he promised major changes, in particular allowing political pluralism, as well as support for human rights and women's rights. The governor's first action was to replace the chief of Herat television and radio, a move that was immediately welcomed by the United Nations.
The United Nations sent a senior delegation to inspect the damage to its and assess the security situation, while evacuating most of its foreign staff in Herat to the capital, Kabul .
Filippo Grandi, the agency's deputy special representative to Afghanistan , was adamant that the mission would rapidly resume its work in western Afghanistan, because elections, which the United Nations is helping organize, are less than 30 days away.
The new governor, however, suggested that his predecessor had encouraged the violence. "In my opinion the atmosphere was created. People do not do this by themselves," Mr. Khairkhwa said.
A spokesman for the former governor Ismail Khan said that he would not be taking up the position of minister of mines and industries offered to him by President Hamid Karzai, but would remain at home in Herat and advise on ensuring security in the region. Mr. Khairkhwa, however, was dismissive of the idea, saying that no such advisory position had been offered to him.