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Afghan President Names New Cabinet

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has announced his cabinet, more than two months after winning election. President Karzai has sidelined powerful regional warlords in the new cabinet and has brought in well-educated technocrats to run the ministries.

A government official, Mohammad Yossuf Etibar, announced the new cabinet on state-run television.

The most controversial Afghan warlord and former Defense Minister Mohammed Qasim Fahim has been dropped in favor of Abdul Rahim Wardak, a widely respected political figure.

Another warlord and former education minister, Yunus Qanooni, has also been pushed out. Both of them were from the ethnic-Tajik minority and had helped the Untied States dislodge the Taleban from power in Kabul three years ago.

The only former warlord remaining in the cabinet is Ismail Khan whom President Karzai removed as governor of western Herat province earlier this year. He becomes minister for energy. Mr. Karzai has come under criticism for including Mr. Khan.

"The people wanted Mr. Karzai to rid Afghanistan of all these warlords. They would be disappointed," said Professor Rasool Amin, a former education minister.

In one of the significant moves, three women have been appointed to the cabinet. Among them is Massouda Jalal who ran against Mr. Karzai in October's presidential elections.

Mr. Karzai retained Interior Minister Ali Jalali and Foreign Minister Abdullah. Under new Afghan legislation, Mr. Jalali, who holds a U.S passport, will need to renounce his dual nationality to keep the post.

The Afghan president has created a new ministry for anti-narcotics to be headed by engineer Habibullah, which will oversee the fight against increasing opium production in Afghanistan.

The appointment of the cabinet is seen crucial to the process of reconstruction in this war-ravaged country.