The decision to veto 17 of 24 cabinet nominees was described by parliament members as an unprecedented show of power by the often-acquiescent legislative body and a rejection of Karzai’s tendency to dole out top positions to powerful ethnic or political constituencies.
“This outcome was a wake-up call,” said Shukria Barakzai, a parliament member from Kabul. “It means the [parliament members] are thinking differently, and they want real change in the governance of the country.”
A presidential spokesman, Wahid Omar, said Karzai was “of course not happy” but will respect the decision of the parliament and plans to deliberate before choosing new nominees.
“The president was surprised by the rejections,” he said. “This is not a pleasant situation.”
The head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, told reporters on Sunday that he was surprised by the number of nominees rejected. “It’s a setback, and it’s a distraction,” he said.
The seven ministers confirmed by the parliament included the defense, interior and finance ministers. All but one of the seven are already in the cabinet, and they are largely supported by the United States.
Parliament members said they rejected other nominees for a range of reasons: They saw them as representatives of warlords or ethnic groups, or they lacked competence. The most prominent nominee to be voted down was Ismail Khan, a powerful commander from western Afghanistan who had served in Karzai’s cabinet as the minister of water and energy.
The vote also offered clear evidence of Karzai’s eroding political support in the wake of a contentious election discredited by fraud. Karzai eventually won a second term by default when his opponent dropped out of the race. The U.S. government and other Western countries have pressured Karzai to fight corruption and install competent ministers.
2010-01-06 07:12:00 UTC