Afghan parliament ratifies nominees for key ministries

15:41, January 03, 2010      

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Afghanistan's Wolesi Jirga, or Lower House of parliament, entrusted the acting ministers of defense, interior and finance nominated by President Hamid Karzai through asecret balloting held Saturday.

Abdul Rahim Wardak, acting minister of defense, had secured 124 votes from 232 legislators present in the session and therefore remained in the cabinet, speaker of the 249-seat House Mohammad Yunus Qanooni announced.

Qanooni also said that Mohammad Hanif Atmar, the nominee for Interior Ministry, and Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, the minister-designate for finance, retained their portfolios by securing 147 votes and 141 votes in favor respectively.

However, the House rejected the nomination of ex-warlord and serving acting minister for Water and Power Mohammad Ismael Khan for the post.

Khan, once a powerful warlord in west Afghanistan and had built his fame in fighting ex-Soviet Union's army and resisting Taliban onslaught in late last century, had secured 111 votes from the parliament while he needed 117 votes to retain the post in the new cabinet.

This is the first time that Afghan parliament has rejected a former warlord who supported President Hamid Karzai during the August 20 fraud-tainted presidential election that enabled Karzai to remain in office for the second five-year term.

President Karzai on Dec. 19, 2009 introduced 24 ministerial nominees for approval, with many of them as incumbent or former ministers.

However, the post of foreign minister remained unfilled in the cabinet nominees list.

In Saturday's voting, which began in the morning and lasted for nine hours, seven nominees received votes of confidence, including acting Minister of Education Farooq Wardak and acting Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Mohammad Asif Rahimi, who will continue their offices in the new cabinet.

The only woman nominee in the new cabinet is Husan Bano Ghazanfar, designated for the Ministry of Women Affairs.

However, she narrowly failed as she secured 115 votes, two votes short of the needed 117 ones, speaker of the house Qanooni said.

The parliament also rejected over a dozen nominees, including minister-designate for justice Sarwar Danish, minister-designate for public health Syed Mohammad Amin Fatimi, minister-designate for economy Anwarul Haq Ahadi.

The president, according to the law, would introduce new nominees for the parliament as soon as possible.

In the new cabinet, there will be 25 ministers and the nominee for foreign minister, according to some lawmakers, would be introduced to the Lower House after the London Conference on Afghanistan to be held within weeks.

The Afghan parliament will begin 45-day winter vacation from Jan. 5.

Source: Xinhua
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