Karzai presents new cabinet to Afghanistan parliament

Afghan President Harzai plans to keep most of his top ministers in a new cabinet presented to parliament.

Karzai presents new cabinet to Afghanistan parliament


Afghan President Hamid Harzai plans to keep most of his top ministers, mainly technocrats favoured by the West, in a new cabinet presented to parliament on Saturday, one of his ministers said.

The list of 23 cabinet nominees keeps the heads of the key interior and finance ministries unchanged along with other technocrats.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anwar Jigdalak presented the list to a sitting of about 200 lawmakers in the Afghan capital, exactly one month after Karzai's re-election was confirmed following an Aug. 20 poll marred by widespread fraud.

"You esteemed delegates of the people are asked to take another positive step by giving a vote of confidence to the above mentioned nominees," Jigdalak told the parliament, which Karzai did not attend.

Surprisingly, no nominations for the foreign affairs and urban development portfolios were named.

"The president had decided not to introduce the minister of foreign affairs to parliament for the time being ... (Spanta) will stay foreign minister, as far as the president is concerned he is the foreign minister," Spanta's senior adviser, Davood Moradian, told Reuters.

Only one woman, the minister of women's affairs, was nominated. The list still must be debated and endorsed by parliament before it becomes official.

With Washington sending 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to boost eight-years military invasion, public support for the war wanes.

The United Nations said in February that a record 2,118 civilians were killed during US occupation in Afghanistan in 2008.

US-led occupation has raised violence in Afghanistan, has angered residents and increased pressure on Hamid Karzai, the country's president.

Nominated ministers

Almost half the ministers will be replaced or reshuffled, but for the most part they will not be the cabinet's top figures. The cabinet does not include any figures from the opposition.

All three security offices, including the head of the intelligence agency, are unchanged. Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak keeps his post.

Those three portfolios are crucial at a time when tens of thousands of new police and army recruits are being trained and deployed, with Afghan leaders hopeful domestic forces can take over full security responsibility within five years.

The interior and finance ministers will also stay, as had been expected. Both are technocrats liked by Washington.

Ministries such as education, health and agriculture, which absorb the most foreign money, are not changing.

Ismael Khan, a once powerful fighter leader, keeping his energy post.

But a strong plus is the appointment of Commerce Minister Wahidullah Shahrani to the mines portfolio, a sector with the potential to earn Afghanistan significant revenue in the future.

In his current post Shahrani adopted a vigorous privatisation campaign and doggedly rooted out corruption.

Reuters

Last Mod: 19 Aralık 2009, 11:13
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