No break for Afghan MPs until they agree new cabinet

Karzai forced to act after Afghan parliament rejects two thirds of his nominations

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has ordered parliament to suspend a winter break so that it can vet and vote on new cabinet nominees after MPs rejected more than two thirds of his original candidates.

But there may be a confrontation ahead as the President plans to return some of the failed choices as candidates for different ministries, a senior official said. Parliament dealt President Karzai a blow on Saturday when it rejected 17 of his 24 nominees, casting Afghanistan into further political disarray just as the turmoil caused by last year's fraud-marred presidential election is subsiding.

If Mr Karzai fails to have his cabinet approved in the next few weeks, he will have to head to a London conference this month seeking extra funds from Western donors without being able to say who will control a significant chunk of them.

Parliament was due to start a six-week winter break later this week, which would have made it almost impossible for Mr Karzai to assemble a full government in less than two months.

"Hamid Karzai has issued a decree to parliament to refrain from going on winter leave to complete the process of voting for new cabinet members," his palace said yesterday. The President ordered the decree based on article 107 of the Afghan constitution, which allows him to convene "extraordinary sessions of parliament during recess", the palace said.

Mohammad Karim Baaz, Deputy Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, said the new list would most likely be presented to the lower house on Sunday, and that some of the rejected candidates would be included with new portfolios.

The decree could lead to a showdown between Mr Karzai and MPs who flexed their muscles over the weekend, making full use of a rare opportunity to hold the President to account by rejecting a large swathe of his cabinet nominees.

Many MPs were already fed up with the President's often autocratic leadership style and tendency to ignore parliament, and by calling on the constitution to delay the winter break, Mr Karzai is likely to arouse further anger.

While parliament will presumably have to abide by the decree, members could give the President a double blow by simply vetoing any new list – especially if Mr Karzai does resubmit some of the old faces.

The rejected nominees included several of his key allies as well as the only woman on the list and the powerful former energy minister, Ismail Khan, a veteran anti-Soviet commander and outspoken critic of the United States.

Like the regional commanders who threw their backing behind Mr Karzai in the election, apparently in return for cabinet and provincial positions, the West had certain ministers it was keen to see retain their portfolios. Several of these, in key ministries including defence, interior and finance, were endorsed by parliament. The President also wants parliament to approve two new ministries, one for literacy and another for martyrs and the disabled.

Violence has reached the highest level since the Taliban were overthrown in 2001. The number of US service personnel to die in Afghanistan last year was more than twice that in 2008. On Sunday, four US troops and a British soldier were killed in two improvised bomb explosions in the south.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Valerie Trierweiler’s book paints Hollande as a cold-hearted hypocrite
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
filmsMockingjay Part 1 taking hit franchise to new levels
Life and Style
techSweet Peach says scent 'shows more important things are working'
Sport
Diego Costa, Ross Barkley, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Christian Eriksen
footballRodgers is right to be looking over his shoulder, while something must be done about diving
News
i100
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

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Ashdown Group: Junior Reports Developer / Application Support Engineer

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Recruitment Genius: Client Support Officer

£10 - £11 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The candidate must be committed, engag...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible