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Karmal resigns as party chief

LONDON, May 4: Afghanistan's Communist Party today chose security chief Najibullah to replace Babrak Karmal as its General Secretary but kept the ailing leader as the country's President, Radio Kabul reported. The party's central committee approved Karmal's request to be replaced on health grounds, the radio said. Karmal returned last Thursday from a mysterious month-long health check-up in the Soviet Union that prompted speculation he was either sick or out of favour with Moscow. Karmal did not appear at a key parade marking the eighth anniversary of the April 27, 1978 Communist takeover and the Soviet daily Pravda criticised his government the same day for fail(Continued on page 2)

Karmal quits party post

(Continued from page 1) arrest, remained outside and orthe Saur Revolution in Aping to introduce reforms fast ganised ril 1978 when the Afghan forces enough. overthrew President Dawood. Karmal remains head of the Re- When President Amin overthrew volutionary Council, Kabul's legis- President Noor Mohammad Taraki, lature, which last January was ex- later in 1979, Dr Najeebullah was panded to include non-communist also deprived of his ministerial members in a bid for wider popular post and party leadership along support. . with Mr Babrak Karmal and other Najibullah, a 39-year-old doctor, leaders of the Parcham faction. was until last year head of the He was appointed as Afghan Am'Khad' secret police. bassador to Iran where he reA Pashtun from the tribal belt mained till President Hafizullah along the Pakistan border, he was Amin was overthrown and killed then promoted to overall security followed by induction of Soviet chief in a move that Western di- troops in Afghanistan. plomats said marked him as a maBBC adds: An announcement by Kabul Radio said that the resignajor contender for power. AIR adds: Mr Babrak Karmal has tion of Babrak Karmal has been acresigned from the Secretary- cepted by a meeting of the Party's Generalship of the ruling People's Central Committee. Democratic Party of Afghanistan About Dr Najeebullah, BBC cor(PDPA) on Sunday, All-India Radio respondent indicated that he was reported. centrally involved in the aggresQuoting the official Radio Kabul sive military and political broadcast, the AIR said that Mr campaigns against the guerilla inKarmal will continue to hold the filtration along the borders with post of the President of the Pakistan. Republic. The announcement of the new Dr Najeebullah, formerly chief Afghan leader came on the eve of of the Afghan Security Affairs and the latest round of talks between one of the senior member of the Pakistan and Afghanistan in ruling PDPA politburo, was elected Geneva. as the new Secretary-General of the ruling party. The ruling PDPA has accepted the resignation of Mr Babrak Karmal from the party leadership, who resigned on health reasons. He only returned to Kabul two days back from Soviet Union. There was growing criticism of Mr Babrak Karmal by the Soviet media for his alleged failure in broadening the political base of the ruling party. This resulted in wide speculations in the western media that he was being replaced. Dr Mohammad Najeebullah was one of the few leaders who escaped

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