Corrected: Afghanistan concedes more on security firm

Tue Dec 7, 2010 9:30am EST
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By Jonathon Burch

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan appeared on Monday to offer more concessions over a ban on private security firms, saying companies would be allowed to work in the country until their existing contracts had expired.

President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in August banning all private security contractors in Afghanistan by mid-December, with an exception for those guarding embassies, military installations and diplomatic residences and personnel.

The move sparked concern in Washington that aid work in Afghanistan would suffer as many profit-oriented development projects rely on private security firms for protection.

General Abdul Manaan Farahi, who advises the Interior Ministry over the ban, said a new independent public security force would start securing international development projects as the private firms were shut down.

The new force would draw recruits from local communities and be separate from the national police service. Farahi also said all private firms, including those securing foreign embassies in the capital, would have to move their offices outside the city.

"Companies who have existing contracts or significant development projects can stay here until the end of their contracts," he told a news conference in Kabul.

"They cannot renew their contracts and they ... should then disband their companies and leave Afghanistan."

In October, Karzai offered a small concession to firms guarding aid projects by extending the original December 17 deadline for disbandment until February.   Continued...