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Karzai presents new Afghan cabinet list

Hamid Karzai's presents his cabinet nominees, keeping US favourites in posts critical to the war and reconstruction.

The Afghan president Hamid Karzai speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan early this month.
The Afghan president Hamid Karzai speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan early this month.

KABUL // The Afghan president Hamid Karzai's nominees for a new cabinet provoked dismay among many parliament members yesterday but a cautiously positive response from the United Nations mission in the war-torn, corruption-plagued country. Officials from the United States and Britain - top troop-supplying countries who have been vocal about the need for reform - did not immediately have comment on the list that was presented to parliament. Mr Karzai's list keeps US favourites in several posts critical to the war and reconstruction and jettisons the heads of two ministries embroiled in corruption probes. He has been under intense international pressure to cleanse his government of corruption and mismanagement. But he also needs to mollify domestic political allies, including warlords, who have kept him in power.

Some parliament members expressed strong concern about the new names among the nominees, suspecting they would do the bidding of warlords who are widely reviled for their brutality in the 1990s civil war and who still hold significant power in their regions. "My fear and that of many MPs is that they maybe are the puppets of those warlords so that despite that they are considered civilised people and more educated people, they cannot implement their own ideas and initiatives," said Khaled Pashtun, a member of parliament from Kandahar. "I think that if this cabinet gets a confidence vote from the parliament of Afghanistan, it would not be able to put medicine on the injuries of the Afghan people," said Gul Pacha Mujedi, a deputy member of parliament from Patkai province. "One other issue which is very important is the participation of women; there is only one position and that is not enough for the women of Afghanistan."

A presidential spokesman said Mr Karzai made his decision in consultation with international officials and Afghan political figures but that he was not beholden to either. "He has listened to the international community and various political parties, but the final decision was made by the president," the spokesman Waheed Omar told reporters. He added that Mr Karzai was confident that the proposed list of ministers would work to implement reforms to root out corruption from the administration. Holdovers from the current cabinet include the defence, interior and finance ministers. The list did not include a nominee for foreign minister; Mr Karzai has said he will make that nomination after the international conference on Afghanistan to be held in London in late January. Mohammad Fahim, the first vice president, told the parliament that those nominated for the new cabinet were "ministers who were experts and did a good job". A UN spokesman said the list as presented looked promising, noting that many appointments could change as legislators debate. "Early indications are encouraging for some of the key ministries," Aleem Siddique said, though he would not discuss specific posts.

"The UN has made clear that we need to see more reform-oriented ministries and of the names we've seen, we're seeing a step in the right direction," he added.

* Associated Press

Incumbents: Defence Gen Abdul Rahim Wardak Interior Hanif Atmar Finance Omar Zakhilwal Public Health Dr Mohammad Amin Fatemi Agriculture Muhammad Asif Rahimi Justice Mohammad Sarwar Danish Education Ghulam Farooq Wardak Women's Affairs Husn Bano Ghazanfar Communications Amirzai Sangeen Counternarcotics Gen Khodaidad Water and Power Ismail Khan Acting Foreign minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta will remain in the post for now. Karzai has said he will make a nomination after an international conference on Afghanistan to be held in London in late January. New nominees Higher Education Hobidullah Hobid Economy Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi Information and Cultural Affairs Sayed Makhdum Rahin Mines Wahidullah Shahrani Haj and Mosque Enayatullah Balugh Refugees Enayatullah Nazari Transportation Mohammad Ullah Patash Commerce Gulam Mohammad Aylaqi Public Welfare Mirza Husain Abdullahi Work and Social Affairs Ismail Manshi Border and Tribal Affairs Hamid Gilani Development and Rural Affairs, Wais Ahmad Darmek New ministry Mr Karzai is asking for parliament to create a ministry for martyr and disabled affairs * AP