Accessibility links

Afghan President Expected to Name Cabinet Soon 

The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan says he is confident Afghan President Hamid Karzai will name his new cabinet as early as this week. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad made his comments in a VOA interview in Washington.

Afghan President Karzai was inaugurated to his office earlier this month, but has yet to name his new cabinet ministers.

Two obstacles include constitutional requirements that ministers have university-level education and do not hold dual nationality. An article in Monday's New York Times newspaper quotes Afghan officials as saying both of these requirements would affect many members of the current cabinet.

In an interview in Washington, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad says he expects President Karzai will make an announcement soon.

"I think so, yes. We're talking about two to three days kind of time frame, I think, yes," he said.

Ambassador Khalilzad says he believes Mr. Karzai is balancing what he described as contradictory and conflicting pressures. He added that he believes the Afghan leader is being careful to follow the spirit and letter of the country's Constitution.

He said the issue of dual citizenship is especially tricky.

"And I think there are different views as to, for example, on dual nationality, whether he has to do it now or can he wait until [there's a] parliament? And I think people have different views because the Constitutional clause says Afghan ministers have to be Afghan citizens only," he explained. "But if they're dual nationals, parliament can decide on that. But there is no parliament now, so the president is both the executive and legislative branch right now. So, he could do it on his own, decide to allow dual nationals to be there, but he has to calculate the political cost of that."

The U.S. envoy says he expects parliamentary and local elections to be held sometime at the end of next April or May.

"You can imagine that this is going to be a major, major activity. As many as 10,000 people will be running for office," he noted. "3000-4000 people will get elected, when you put all of these things together, local council, provincial council, the lower house, senate, we're talking about a huge exercise. Much more complicated than the presidential election, which had a few people running for the same office nationwide."

The U.S. diplomat said he believes logistical issues will cause the most difficult problems for election officials, pointing out that many district and provincial boundaries are still not resolved. He said security also could be a factor, especially in tense local elections, but added that he does not expect interference from what he termed external enemies, like al-Qaida.