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Afghan Lawmakers Reject Most of Karzai's Cabinet Picks

VOA News 02 January 2010

An Afghan parliament member votes for the new Cabinet in Kabul, 02 Jan 2010

Afghanistan's parliament has rejected the majority of President Hamid Karzai's nominees for his new cabinet.

Of 24 nominees, only seven were approved by members of parliament who showed their distaste for Mr. Karzai's choices through a secret ballot on Saturday.

Among those rejected were incumbent Energy Minister Ismail Khan, a former warlord accused of human rights abuses. Parliament also rejected the only female in the Cabinet, the incumbent minister of Women's Affairs.

It did approve the incumbent ministers of Defense, Interior and Finance - key players in Afghanistan's war and reconstruction.

Mr. Karzai must submit another round of nominees for parliamentary approval before the new government can officially begin work.

Also Saturday, the Afghan Election Commission announced parliamentary elections will take place on May 22, despite international pressure to postpone the polls until the government addresses corruption that marred last August's presidential vote.

As the parliamentary vote took place, Mr. Karzai was in Helmand province meeting the current defense and interior ministers, as well as the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

Mr. Karzai also met Helmand families, expressing condolences for Afghans killed in the U.S.-led fight against the Taliban. He told local residents that if they want to be protected, they have to bring their sons to the national army.

In eastern Khost province, the international security force in Afghanistan said it captured a cell leader of the Haqqani network in an operation with Afghan forces late Friday night.

The Haqqani network is allied with the Taliban and is considered one of the deadliest militant factions in Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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