The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan said on Sunday that parliament’s rejection of most of President Hamid Karzai’s nominees for a new cabinet will delay efforts to establish a functioning government that can focus on badly needed reforms.
Kai Eide said he was surprised that lawmakers rejected 17 of Karzai’s 24 picks. Karzai will now have to spend time submitting new Cabinet nominees, delaying his second-term government’s ability to fully partner with donor nations ahead of an international conference on Afghanistan in London on January 28, he said.
In 10 hours of voting Saturday, parliament rejected nominees viewed as Karzai’s political cronies, those believed to be under the influence of warlords and others deemed unqualified. The vote was a setback to the president, although lawmakers did approve his retention of incumbents in the key portfolios of defence, interior and finance.
‘’I think most of us were surprised at how many ministers were not approved by the parliament,’’ Eide said. ‘’It’s a setback and it’s a distraction.’’
Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar said Sunday that the president also was surprised by the rejections, but the vote showed Afghanistan has a pluralistic political system.
‘’This is the beauty of democracy. We are exercising democracy,’’ Omar told reporters.
He acknowledged that ‘’this is obviously not good in terms of the functioning of the government, in terms of services,’’ but said all ministries were still functioning. ‘’In some ministries the deputies are carrying out the duties,’’ Omar said.