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    Atta Mohammad Noor, governor of the Balkh province, arrives for an interview with The Associated Press at his home in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015.

    Afghan Showdown as Fired Governor Refuses to Leave Post

    © AP Photo / Massoud Hossaini
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    The governor of the northern Afghanistan province of Balkh, one of the nation’s most powerful politicians is refusing to step down, even though the nation’s president, Ashraf Ghani, fired him earlier this month.

    Atta Mohammad Noor of the Jamiat-e Islami party — also known as "King of the North" — was the governor of Balkh and remains an important politician, representing Afghanistan's Tajik ethnic minority. 

    Although the presidential palace recently accepted Noor's resignation, on Saturday the powerful figure announced at a gathering of several thousand people in the provincial capital Mazar-e Sharif that he would continue to be the governor.

    "I have said many times that no one can remove me with a decree," Noor declared.
    Noor criticized former ally, Afghani Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, the leader of Noor's party. Noor referred to Abdullah as "a snake up everyone's sleeve," who is weakening the party from within.

    "Your teeth will not sink into us," Noor said, referring to Abdullah. "We will break your teeth," he added.

    During the 2014 Afghan presidential election, which ended in deadlock, the US declared that Ghani would be president and said that runner-up Abdullah would serve as prime minister. The Jamiat-e-Islami party has been in power since the 2001 collapse of the Taliban regime.

    Noor has suggested that Abdullah, not the Afghani president, is responsible for his firing.
    "Death to Dr. Abdullah," the crowd chanted during the Saturday gathering.

    Even though Noor backed Abdullah during the 2014 presidential race, the relationship between the two went awry after a coalition government was established. Noor claimed that he was fired because he called upon the government to appoint more ministers, governors and ambassadors outside of his party.

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