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Karzai Presents List of Cabinet Nominees to Afghan Parliament


The Afghan leader has retained most of his top technocrat ministers backed by Western allies of the country.

Lawmakers in the lower house of Afghan parliament have begun debating President Karzai's nominees and they must endorse them before the Cabinet becomes official.

The Afghan president has been under intense international pressure to ensure his new administration is composed of officials who will ensure implementation of reforms meant to root out corruption and improve governance.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul, presidential spokesman Wahid Omar says Mr. Karzai has prepared the list of cabinet members after thorough consultations.

"We believe that this list represents a professional cabinet and this list represents Afghan government's commitment to fight corruption and Afghanistan's commitment to make the government more effective," he said. "The president has listened to many people internally and externally, but obviously at the end of the day, it is his decision to appoint his cabinet and it's the parliament decision to give it vote of confidence or vote of no-confidence."

The spokesman defended President Karzai's nomination of 12 members from his previous administration, including interior, finance and defense ministers.

"The only standard for those who remain in the cabinet has been their proficiency, their efficiency and their effectiveness and what they have done in the similar posts in the past," he said.

Eight new faces are included in the proposed cabinet while three of the members have served in the Afghan government under President Karzai at different times during the past eight years. The only female nominee is for the ministry of woman affairs.

The presidential spokesman says that the minister for foreign affairs will be nominated after next month's international conference on Afghanistan being hosted by Britain. Foreign Minister Rangin Spanta, he says, will stay on for the key conference, but gave no reason for his departure.

Many members of the parliament were unhappy with President Karzai's nominations and expressed strong reservations. The Afghan president after being re-elected in the disputed presidential election in August had promised to work closely with political opponents to improve governance, defeat Taliban insurgency and rid the country of corruption. But the new Afghan cabinet does not include any members from the Afghan opposition.