economic

‘Bashir has the right to protect himself’: Abbott’s adviser

The government’s plan to appoint a former Australian Security Intelligence Organisation operative as an adviser to President Bashir is expected to be defeated in the Senate today, as is the Opposition’s proposal to block the appointment of former military and police commander-in-chief Hamid Ansari.

Senator Chris Bowen is expected today to call on the Government to reverse the Government’s decision to sack Mr Ansari in April.

The Opposition has said it will vote against the Government, and that Senator Bowen has the power to block any decision that would bring the Senate to a vote.

Senator Bowen is the only member of the Government who will vote to remove Mr Ansaria from his position as adviser to Mr Bashir.

“It is time for the Government and the Opposition to make the decision to appoint Mr Hamid as an advisor to the Government,” Senator Bowen said.

It was the Government that decided to dismiss Mr Ansarian, the first military officer to be sacked by the Abbott Government, in April, just days after he became Afghanistan’s first commander-ins-chief.

After his appointment, Mr Ansaris was accused of “insulting the national flag” by mocking the United States.

Mr Bowen has previously called on Mr Ansars removal as a sign of a “new and dangerous approach” to Afghanistan.

In a statement to The Australian yesterday, Mr Bowen said: “I support the appointment and will continue to support it.”

However, I do not support the suggestion that I have the right or the power by the Constitution to interfere with a democratically elected President of Afghanistan.

“I will continue in my role as an Opposition senator to continue to hold Mr Bashar to account for his actions.”

But Senator Bowen was adamant he did not have the power of the Senate “to prevent a democratically-elected President of the United Kingdom from taking office”.

“In my role of Senator I have been critical of the way Mr Bashary has handled the affairs of Afghanistan,” he said.

“But I do hold the office of the Prime Minister to account.”

Mr Ansari was appointed to the Afghan presidency in 2014 after serving as an assistant defence minister under former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Mr Ansar has said he is “not an ideologue” and said he does not have a political agenda.

“What I do believe is that Afghanistan is a great country, that the country has a great future, that it has a lot to offer to the world,” Mr Ansar told The Australian last year.

“We have a huge problem with drugs, we have a lot of crime and violence.

But I don’t believe we have the opportunity to turn Afghanistan into a great place.”

Mr Bowen said he did have “the power” to block Mr Ansaries appointment as an Adviser.

“It’s time for Senator Bowen to make a clear decision,” he told reporters.

He said the Senate was “the last place in the world” for such an appointment, and was “perfectly capable” of taking action to block it.

Senator Bowen said the Government had “taken extraordinary action” to remove the role of the Afghan military and “put the military back into the country”.

“It has given them the authority to do that,” he added.

ABC/APTopics:government-and-politics,government-organisations,foreign-affairs,foreign_policy,afghanistan,african-america,australia,arab-republic-of,africa,aurelia-6606,afp,abbott-tony,britain,united-kingdomContact Chris Bowen