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January 15, 2010

Afghan Lawmakers Reject 10 Cabinet Nominees

Afghan lawmakers have blocked President Hamid Karzai's second attempt to fill key posts in his new Cabinet.

On Saturday, the Parliament rejected ten of Mr. Karzai's 17 nominees, complaining they were corrupt or unqualified.

It is the second time Afghan lawmakers have voted down a majority of Mr. Karzai's nominees to head government ministries. The U.S. and other countries were pressuring the Afghan leader to have a government in place before an international donor conference on Afghanistan in London later this month.

Mr. Karzai said he regretted parliament's decision to reject so many of his nominees.  However, lawmakers did approve his picks to head the foreign and justice ministries during Saturday's session.

They also approved one of three women nominated to head up government agencies.  Lawmakers had rejected the only woman proposed for the Cabinet in the earlier vote.

One woman lawmaker, Shukria Barekzai, said she was encouraged that Parliament had approved a female nominee.  But she said she was discouraged that the two others were rejected.

She said she hopes that President Karzai will nominate more women when he submits a third list of candidates to fill the remaining Cabinet vacancies.

The Afghan president did not submit a name to replace incumbent Energy Minister Ismail Khan, a former warlord who has been accused of human rights abuses.  Khan was rejected in the first vote.

Despite the difficulties in approving a Cabinet, Afghan lawmaker Dawoud Sultanzoy said the overall process was good the country's young democracy.