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Afghan MPs reject most Karzai cabinet nominees

Afghan MPs vote on the cabinet in Kabul on 2 January 2010
The cabinet list was submitted to parliament two weeks ago

The Afghan parliament has turned down 17 out of President Hamid Karzai's 24 nominees for his new cabinet.

Energy minister nominee Ismail Khan, a former warlord, was among the rejected.

Nominees for justice, health, commerce, economy and women's affairs were among others rejected, but Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak was re-appointed.

The BBC's Kabul correspondent says the results complicate Mr Karzai's efforts to repay political favours with cabinet posts without offending parliament.

He also needs to satisfy international donors who have threatened to withhold funding for any ministry run by a corrupt politician, the BBC's Peter Greste adds.

Western officials have repeatedly emphasised that tackling corruption is key to stabilising the country, following the president's controversial re-election last year.

I think, unfortunately, that the criteria [for cabinet posts] were either ethnicity or bribery or money
Fawzia Kufi
Afghan MP

The vote is one of the few occasions when parliamentarians have genuine power to hold the executive to account, analysts say.

Many nominees were criticised as having been picked for reasons other than their competency.

"I think, unfortunately, that the criteria were either ethnicity or bribery or money," MP Fawzia Kufi said, in remarks quoted by AP news agency.

'Slap'

Women's Affairs Minister Husn Bano Ghazanfar - the only female in the cabinet - was among those who failed to win approval in Saturday's secret ballot of more than 200 MPs.

Mr Khan, a Soviet-era guerrilla leader and anti-Taliban commander who was also energy minister in the last cabinet, was one of the most prominent nominees to be rejected.

Accused of human rights abuses and corruption, he is also unpopular with some because of his role as a warlord in western Herat province during Afghanistan's civil war.

No-one has been nominated foreign minister, and the post is not expected to be filled until an international conference on Afghanistan in London later this month.

OUT OF OFFICE
Ismail Khan, Energy and Water Minister
Husn Bano Ghazanfar, Women's Minister
General Khodaidad, Anti-narcotics Minister
Sayed Mohammad Amin Fatimi, Health Minister
Mohammad Sarwar Danish, Justice Minister
Wahidullah Shahrani, Commerce Minister
Amir Zai Sangeen, Telecommunications Minister

Analysts say Mr Karzai presented his cabinet to parliament two weeks ago, hoping to finalise his team before the conference.

But only seven posts were confirmed. They include - along with defence - that of Interior Minister Hanif Atmar.

Our correspondent says few had anticipated a slap of this scale for the president.

Independent Afghan MP Daoud Sultanzoy told the BBC that Mr Karzai now had to prove his leadership.

"If Mr Karzai is a capable leader he should tell those benefactors: 'Look, I gave you a chance. I introduced your people to the parliament. The parliament rejected it. You had your chance'."

He said Mr Karzai should now be left to produce a cabinet acceptable to parliament "so we can get on with the work of the people of this country".

US President Barack Obama announced last month he would send 30,000 new US troops to Afghanistan, with a view to beating the Taliban.

Nato countries have followed up by pledging another 7,000 troops so far.

Mr Obama said he wants to begin handing over to Afghan security forces by mid-2011.

President Karzai was returned for a second five-year term after last August's election, despite investigators discovering more than a quarter of votes were fraudulent.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
SiliconValley.com Afghanistan lawmakers reject Karzai's Cabinet picks - 25 hrs ago
Boston Globe Afghan lawmakers reject most Cabinet picks - 26 hrs ago
Observer Afghan MPs snub Karzai's new cabinet - 32 hrs ago
Telegraph Afghan MPs reject Karzai's picks - 34 hrs ago
Reuters UK Afghan MPs reject two-thirds of Karzai's cabinet - 36 hrs ago



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