KABUL, Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s health minister has resigned in connection with a corruption scandal involving his brother and a number of other relatives, the country’s presidency said on Thursday.

Dawa Khan Menapal, the deputy spokesman for the presidency, told Anadolu Agency that Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Usmani has resigned.

A presidential decree circulating on social media suggested President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has accepted the resignation of the minister.

This came days after the Attorney General’s Office confirmed that four people have been arrested at the Ministry of Public Health on charges of soliciting bribes from its employees.

In a video message, Jamshid Rasouli, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said earlier this week that the men had been arrested by the Control and Surveillance team and were currently in custody.

He did not reveal the identities of the detainees but stressed that the case was under investigation.

The local Salam Afghanistan radio reported that among those detained included the brother of the health minister and three cousins.

‘Forced to resign’

Meanwhile, in a video message, Usmani claimed he has been directed by the President to resign.

“Yesterday, I was asked by the President to resign, but I argued there are no legal hurdles for me to continue my job, and today I received a phone call again from the President to resign. But, I have not resigned, however, I have received a letter from the Administrative Office of the President saying the resignation of the Minister of Public Health has been approved,” he said, and dubbed it as a “political conspiracy.”

Earlier this week, Afghan authorities announced arresting three members of the parliament’s anti-corruption committee on the charge of taking bribes worth $40,000.

At the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Afghanistan remains the fifth most corrupt country after Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and Somalia.

Ahead of a key international donors’ conference last month, Ghani announced the formation of an Anti-Corruption Commission to address the issue in the war-torn country.

This was followed by the country receiving financial pledges worth $12 billion for the next four years at the Afghanistan International Conference – Geneva with many strings attached.​​​​​​​

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