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Afghan Cabinet Introduced to Parliament for Approval

FILE - Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan.
FILE - Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday introduced his cabinet nominees to the parliament’s lower house, or Wolesi Jirga, for a vote of confidence. The move came nearly four months after Ghani took office because of prolonged negotiations with his election-rival-turned coalition partner, Abdullah Abdullah, on finalizing the list.

Under a deal mediated by the United States following a disputed presidential election, Abdullah shares power over appointments as the chief executive officer of the so-called National Unity Government led by President Ghani.

Prior to presenting the list of 27 candidates, including three women, the Afghan leader addressed the lawmakers and highlighted the challenges facing Afghanistan, in areas such as security, government finances, the economy and poverty. He said that the security agreements signed with the United States and NATO have helped the government.

President Ghani said he did his best to put together a cabinet acceptable to the lawmakers and they have the authority to accept or reject any or all of the nominees. He added that the designated cabinet members are accountable to the people and the Wolesi Jirga. Ghani urged the nominees to fight corruption, saying “if doubts fall on any ministers he or she must resign.”

Several ministers-designate are dual citizens and some Afghan lawmakers have said they will oppose their nomination. President Ghani announced his list of cabinet nominees last week but one of them later was found to be wanted by the European police agency Interpol for tax evasion in Estonia.

The presidential spokesman later promised to remove the minister-designate from the list if the allegation is substantiated. The nominee to head the finance ministry, Jilani Popal, is said to have withdrawn his name to keep his dual citizenship.

Lawmakers are expected to give their approval on the cabinet later this week.

More violence in Ghazni province

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb in the eastern Ghazni province midday Tuesday killed at least eight civilians and wounded two others. Afghan officials blamed Taliban insurgents for planting what they described as an improvised explosive device.

This is the second roadside bombing in the past few days in which civilians have died. On Saturday, a family of five, including three children, were killed in a taxi. The incident took place in eastern Nangarhar province bordering Pakistan.

The United Nations estimates that insurgent attacks and security operations in 2014 killed and wounded as many as 10,000 civilians in Afghanistan. It blamed the Taliban for most of the casualties.