Political Landscape

At a snail’s pace towards a full cabinet (UPDATED)


President Karzai’s latest fill-up list for the cabinet is out. It has gone from the presidency to the parliament today (Saturday), as Afghan state TV confirmed. The President continues his piecemeal approach – and introduced candidates for only seven out of the 13 cabinet slots that are still open. Here an overview compiled by Thomas Ruttig, in cooperation with Gran Hewad.

There we are, and we now have an impression of how reliable khabarha-ye sar-e chowk, i.e. Kabul’s rumour mill, is: the www.afghanpaper.com got three out of eight candidates right for the still open ministerial slots in President Karzai’s cabinet. (With such a score, they wouldn’t have made the knock-out round at the World Cup.)

But now seriously: Today, the President’s list for seven of the still open 13 cabinet posts (if we include the head of NDS which is a minister-level position) was handed over to parliament. Radio TV Afghanistan has confirmed the names of the candiates. Here is the list:

(The first three are the ones the website got right.)

Minister of Interior: General Bismillah Muhammadi
Born 1961 in the Panjshir valley, educated at Abu Hanifa High Madrasa and the war university of Jamiat-e Islami in 1995. In the same year, he was appointed the commander of the Islamic State of Afghanistan’s 40th army division 1995. In 2000, he was made commander of National Guard, in 2002 Deputy Minister of Defence and, in 2003, chief of the army’s general staff, a position he holds up to now. Politically he was linked to Shura-ye Nazar, he was very close to late Ahmad Shah Massud. If confirmed by parliament, he will be the only representative of the once powerful “Panjshiri” group.

Minister of Higher Education: Sarwar Danesh
Currently already acting minister for this portfolio. Born in 1961, a Hazara from Daykundi province. He studied law and Islamic education in Qom (Iran), was member of the Constitutional Commission in 2004, the first post-Taleban governor of Daykundi and Minister of Justice from 2004 to 2009. Close to Hezb-e Wahdat (Khalili).

Minister for Public Works: Eng. Abdul Quddus Hamidi
Currently Deputy Minister of Mines, was proposed as Minister of Telecommunication in the second Karzai cabinet list in February 2010 but rejected. Born in 1956 in Jauzjan province, an Uzbek with higher education in chemistry technology at the Polytechnic Institute (now University) Kabul.

The biggest surprise is the following candidate who might make a veritable comeback:

Minister of Commerce and Industry: Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi
Ahady initially fell out with President Karzai last year when he announced his candidacy for the presidential elections (as a candidate of his party Afghan Millat, officially Afghan Social Democratic Party) and resigned from the cabinet. He changed his mind later and did not run and apparently mended fences with Karzai again. Born in 1951, Ahady is a Pashtun from Sarobi, east of Kabul. He studied in Kabul, Beirut (at the American University) and Chicago, was a university teacher in the US, head of the Kabul Central Bank from 2002 to 2004 and Minister of Finance from 2004 to 2008.

The most controversial one might be:

Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs: Assadullah Khaled
Born 1969 in Nawa District of Ghazni province, he was linked to Sayyaf’s party Ittihad-e Islami. Education (law) in Tajikistan. Head of the 5th department of NDS (2002-03), governor of Ghazni (2003-05) and of Kandahar (2005-08), acting Minister of Tribal and Border Affairs in 2008/09 after the President initially wanted him as Minister for Parliament Affairs but he rejected the job. (The parliament also had signalled that it would object.)

The remaining two are newcomers on the scene, at least with regard to posts in the executive:

Minister of Refugees: Jamahir Anwari
Born 1955 in Andkhoi district of Faryab province. A well-known member of the Turkmen community. Education in Pharmacy, member of the Peace and Unity Council of Afghanistan’s Turkmens and of the Loya Jirgas in 2002 and 2003. He owns a carpet enterprise.

Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation: Daud Ali Najafi
Born 1967 in Jaghori district of Ghazni province, Hazara. Studied at the Medical University of Baluchistan (Pakistan). Worked as a political officer at the UN Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) and became CEO of the Joint Election Management Body in 2004/05 and subsequently the director of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) during the presidential elections in 2009. This nomination is definitely a thank-you for his last job.

On Saturday afternoon, the parliament requested the candidates to present their programmes in the house on Monday. It was said that they might take the vote on the same day or, latest, on Tuesday. Originally, the MPs had given the President an – already extended – ultimatum to present the full list of 13 candiates to them by the end of its official legislative period on1 Saratan (22 June) (see an earlier blog of ours here). That was last Tuesday. The President let – one might say, of course – the deadline pass.

In the meantime, in a kind of tit-for-tat, the parliament has unilaterally extended its legislative period for some five months more, until the results of the election have been announced. It referred to article 83 of the constitution that stipulates that parliamentary elections must be held 30 to 60 before its legislative period ends. That has not happened, the date was delayed by the IEC.

This replicates a similar approach of the President who had his tenure extended in a highly controversial move last year when presidential elections could not be held on time either. We have not heard of a reaction of the presidency to the parliament’s decision yet. Can it be assumed that this score, at least, is settled now? Will the President let the cabinet affair drag on up to the elections? Or is the underlying reason for the incomplete list just that he does not want to disappoint Ismail Khan the warlord-turned-minister of water and power [sic!] who finally might lose his job and not be represented in the new cabinet anymore?

Kabul Daily Afghanistan commented that it ‘is important to ask why decisions in this country are taken to serve personal interests and why even the law is used instrumentally to ensure personal interests’. The tug-of-war between the executive and the legislative continues – although, for the moment, on a lower flame, it seems.

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Thematic Category: Political Landscape