Afghan parliament votes to remove key ministers

 

The Afghan parliament passed votes of no confidence Saturday to remove the country's defense and interior ministers, a move that threatens to throw the country's security apparatus into confusion as foreign forces withdraw.

The vote demanded the dismissal of two of President Hamid Karzai's key security lieutenants: Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, one of the top Afghan officials most trusted by Washington, and Interior Minister Bismullah Mohammadi.

Legislators faulted the two for what they view as the government's weak response to cross-border attacks from Pakistan that they blamed on that country's military. The parliamentarians also asked the ministers about allegations of corruption within their ministries and alleged security lapses that led to recent assassinations of top officials.

The parliament then passed a measure to remove Wardak by a vote of 146 to 72. A separate vote of no confidence on Mohammadi passed 126 to 90. Both measures need 124 votes to pass.

"Both ministers are disqualified from their positions and we request His Excellency President Karzai to introduce new ministers for these positions as soon as possible," Abdul Raouf Abrahimi, speaker of the lower house of parliament, said after the vote.

It is unclear if the two will immediately leave their posts. Parliament occasionally flexes its muscle to thwart Karzai's policies or appointments, but the constitution places most power in the president's hands.

Karzai's office issued a three-sentence statement acknowledging that Article 92 of the Afghan constitution gives the parliament the authority to disqualify ministers. Karzai's statement did not express any support or regret for the no confidence votes, saying only that the president would "make decisions about the disqualified ministers" after he meets with his national security team on Sunday.

In past no-confidence votes, Karzai has simply kept other ministers in their jobs in an acting capacity and dragged out the process of nominating replacements.

Among the criticisms of the two ministers was the government's tepid response to allegations that the Pakistani military launched hundreds of shells and rockets into Afghanistan last month, sometimes hitting homes along frontier areas where insurgents have staged cross-border attacks.

Karzai has been careful not to openly blame the Pakistani military for the artillery barrage, which reportedly hit districts in the eastern provinces of Nuristan and Kunar. Interior Minister Mohammedi and other top-ranking administration officials, however, have explicitly blamed Pakistan for the shelling.

Afghan military analyst Abdul Hadi Khalid, a former deputy interior minister, said he thinks the dismissal vote was less about the controversy over the cross-border attacks than a power play by parliament.

He suspects that the lawmakers were reacting to citizen allegations that they were a "useless parliament" that could not make decisions.

"So suddenly, the parliament made a decision to gain dignity from the nation and show that they can oust top security ministers," Khalid said. "These two ministers became the victims of the weakness of this government."

Wardak, who studied in the US and speaks English fluently, has been long backed by Washington and the NATO military coalition. He has been defense minister since late 2004, and was deputy defense minister before that. In the 1980s, he was a well-known leader of mujahideen fighting against the Soviet and Afghan communists.

Wardak has overseen massive growth of the army — now 185,125-strong. In recent years, tens of thousands of soldiers have been recruited, given literacy and military training and sent to fight alongside foreign forces.

The votes of no confidence come at a critical time in the war when Afghan police and soldiers are increasingly taking responsibility from exiting international troops, who are scheduled to leave Afghanistan or move into support roles by the end of 2014.

Afghan forces now take lead in areas of the country that are home to 75 per cent of the population. 

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Sport
footballLive blog: Follow the action from the Capital One Cup semi-final
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century