Karzai’s spokesman resigns

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s chief spokesman said Monday he had resigned, dealing a blow to the Western-backed Kabul administration.

Waheed Omer, who has held the job since early 2010, told journalists that the move was “my personal decision” and “not political”, dismissing suggestions he had been pressured to quit.

“I have spoken to the president of Afghanistan about my resignation,” Omer said. “The president has accepted in principle but the administrative process is not over yet.”

Karzai — whose government brings together a wide range of different ethnic and political factions — has been described as “paranoid and weak” by US ambassador Karl Eikenberry, according to leaked American diplomatic cables.

The Afghan president hit back at the reports by accusing the Western media of regularly portraying him in a negative light.

Since the 2001 US-led invasion toppled the Taliban from power, sparking a nine-year Taliban insurgency, Afghanistan’s media has prospered, making the job of government spokesmen increasingly important.

There are now more than two dozen privately-run television channels plus dozens of radio stations and hundreds of newspapers and magazines in war-torn Afghanistan.