Afghan parliament rejects second defense minister nominee

KABUL: Afghanistan's parliament rejected the second nominee for defense minister on Saturday, leaving the key position in limbo after nine months and as the Taliban insurgency makes gains against foreign-backed government forces.

Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai received 84 out of the 107 votes required to pass the vote. A total 231 were cast.

The president's failure to nominate a full cabinet after nine months in office has sowed enormous discontent among Afghans and Saturday's vote was seen as a test of his government's influence over parliament.

Stanekzai, the country's former peace representative, was nominated as acting minister at the end of May and had taken charge of the army at a time when most foreign troops have departed and the Taliban are gaining territory.

The first nominee for defense minister was rejected in January and the second dropped out before being put to the vote.