Afghan president presents second Cabinet list

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The Independent Online

Afghan President Hamid Karzai presented a second slate of nominees to fill his Cabinet today after parliament rejected 70 per cent of his first picks.

Last week's rejection by lawmakers of 17 of 24 nominees was a setback to Karzai's efforts to get his second term in office into full operation so he can focus on badly needed reforms in a country at war for more than eight years.



The US and other donor nations have been pressing Karzai to get his administration assembled, especially before an international conference on Afghanistan to be held on 28 January in London.



Second Vice President Karim Khalili announced 16 ministerial candidates, including 15 to replace those rejected the first time plus Karzai's pick to head the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zelmai Rasoul, a longtime national security adviser. That post was not part of his first submission.



He did not submit names to replace Ishmail Khan, an infamous warlord who currently is the minister of water and energy, who had been rejected in the first vote. He also did not submit a name for telecommunications. He said nominees for those portfolios would be announced soon.



"I request that all the lawmakers think about the national interest of the country, the current situation of the country and the desires of the Afghan people and make a good decision," Khalili said as he read the names to parliament.



Some political analysts had expected Karzai to resubmit the names of rejected candidates for different positions but all the nominees announced had not been on the first list.



Karzai's credibility both at home and abroad was shaken by the fraud-plagued presidential elections in August. In the first vote on the Cabinet nominees, lawmakers rejected nominees viewed as Karzai's political cronies, those believed to be under the influence of warlords and others deemed unqualified.



Parliament did approve his retention of incumbents in the key portfolios of defense, interior, finance and agriculture in the 2 January vote. All these were favored by the US and other nations supplying troops and aid to Afghanistan.



The US and other Western nations hope that a stronger government will help keep disenchanted Afghans from siding with Taliban insurgents.

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