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27 December 2004

U.S. Welcomes Afghan President Karzai's Cabinet Appointments

Afghanistan's new Cabinet favors technocrats over warlords

The U.S. government has welcomed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's December 23 announcement of his new Cabinet appointments.

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said the Afghan people have made it clear they want a Cabinet of "competence and integrity."

"We support their wish and call upon the Cabinet to fully devote itself to supporting President Karzai as he leads Afghanistan to a new and brighter future," Khalilzad said in a December 24 statement.

Most of the Cabinet positions went to technocrats with work experience relevant to their assigned portfolios. This is a change from the interim Cabinet, which included several wartime commanders representing various ethnic factions.

Current Defense Minister Muhammad Fahim, a Tajik leader and former Northern Alliance commander, will be replaced by his deputy, Abdur Rahim Wardak, a Pashtun leader who fought the Soviet occupation during the 1980s.

The key post of finance minister will also be changing hands. Current Central Bank Governor Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi will replace current Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani.

Foreign Minister Abdullah and Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali will keep their posts in the new Cabinet.

Karzai chose Massouda Jalal, his only female opponent in the October 9 presidential election, to serve as minister of women's affairs. He also created a new Counternarcotics Ministry to confront Afghanistan's burgeoning opium industry and appointed Habibullah Qadari to its helm.

According to the Afghan constitution, all Cabinet ministers must have at least a university education. Karzai has also declared that candidates for Cabinet appointments must renounce any nationality other than Afghan. This is relevant to Interior Minister Jalali, who holds dual Afghan-U.S. citizenship.

The new Cabinet will be subject to the approval of the Afghan National Assembly once that body is created pursuant to parliamentary elections that are currently scheduled for April 2005.

Hamid Karzai was inaugurated December 7 for a five-year term as Afghanistan's first democratically elected president.

Following are the text of a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and a list of new Cabinet members:

(begin text)

U.S. Embassy Kabul
Office of Public Affairs
Press Release
For Immediate Release
December 24, 2004

U.S. Embassy Congratulates President Karzai and his New Cabinet

Kabul, Afghanistan -- The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan congratulates President Karzai on his appointment of a new Cabinet -- another major step on the road to a stable and robust democracy. Presidential Special Envoy and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad made this congratulatory statement:

"We congratulate President Karzai on his appointment of a new Cabinet -- a Cabinet that includes dedicated leaders, both men and women, whom we hope will support the President with dedication and excellence. The October presidential election showed the world that the Afghan people aspire to build a future of democracy, peace, and stability. The Afghan people have also made it clear that they want a Cabinet of competence and integrity.

"We support their wish and call upon the Cabinet to fully devote itself to supporting President Karzai as he leads Afghanistan to a new and brighter future. We wish President Karzai and his Cabinet great success and assure the President and his cabinet that we look forward to continuing our close cooperation," said Ambassador Khalilzad.

..........................

President: Hamid Karzai
First Vice President: Ahmad Zia Masood
Second Vice President: Abdul Karim Khalili
Defense Minister: Abdur Rahim Wardak
Foreign Minister: Abdullah
Finance Minister: Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi
Interior Minister: Ali Ahmad Jalali
Commerce: Hedayat Amin Arsala
National Security Adviser: Zalmay Rasool
Education: Noor Mohammed Qarqeen
Economy: Mohammed Amin Farhang
Transport: Enayatullah Qasemi
Women's Affairs: Massouda Jalal
Communication: Amirzai Sangeen
Mines and Industry: Mir Mohammed Sediq
Public Works: Suhrab Ali Safari
Urban Development: Yusuf Pashtun
Agriculture and Food: Obaidullah Ramin
Energy: Ismael Khan
Justice: Mohammed Sarwar Danish
Higher Education: Amir Shah Hasanyar
Information and Culture: Sayed Makhdum Rahin
Public Health: Sawed Mohammed Amin Fatemi
Hajj and Islamic Affairs: Namatullah Shahrani
Border Affairs: Mohammed Karim Brahoye
Social and Labor: Sayed Ekramuddin Agha
Refugees: Mohammad Azam Dadfar
Martyrs and Disabled: Sediqa Balkhi
Rural Development: Mohammed Hanif Atmar
Counternarcotics: Habibullah Qadari

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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