Parliament rejects Karzai cabinet

KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai suffered a new blow to his authority with the rejection by parliament of most of his choices for cabinet, further prolonging political crisis in the war-ravaged country.

Of the 24 people Karzai put forward for the cabinet, only seven won approval on Saturday in a secret ballot of more than 200 lawmakers.

The rejections effectively leave Afghanistan without a fully functioning government, dragging out a political vacuum that has prevailed since an August presidential election, with ministries being run by junior bureaucrats who have little power and no coherent plan.

Among those rejected were the only woman, undermining Karzai’s pledge to bring more women into government, and a warlord whose pick as water and energy minister was seen as a reward for support at the August 20 election.

Five of the highest-profile ministers, who had the Western nod, were approved — interior, defence, finance, education and agriculture.

Those voted down included warlord Ismail Khan while incumbent women’s affairs minister Husn Banu Ghazanfar lost out by two votes.

Rejected nominees cannot be tapped again for the same post.