After over two weeks of listening to presentations by the candidate ministers and being subjected to lobbying and negotiations, the Lower House of Parliament finally voted. And only seven out of twenty-four ministers were passed.
It can be no coincidence that six of them were sitting ministers about which the internationals had made it quite clear that they would like to see them remain. The approval of the seventh, the former minister of Culture Raheen, comes as a bit of a surprise. Raheen had failed to receive the vote in April 2006 (with respectively 93 votes for, 131 against, 19 blank and 1 invalid) and was considered by many as either too liberal or too pro-persian. He was however also widely seen as having the backing of the international community, which in this case seems to have worked in his favour.
Two of the candidates who failed to gather enough votes, can at least seek comfort in the fact that they received more positive than negative votes – respectively Ghazanfar for Women’s Affairs and Ismail Khan on Energy & Water, with Ghazanfar being only 2 votes short. The three least popular candidates managed to gather only a handful of votes (Munshi, Khodaidad and Abdullahi with respectively 39, 36 and 33 votes).
From a distance, and without the benefit of political gossip, the results seem to indicate that the Parliament has turned against the re-introduction of ministers who are considered to have failed to deliver and the introduction of new ministers who are seen to hold no promise of improvement.
It is not clear how taken aback the president will be by this result and how he will respond. There seems to be a general sense that several of the candidate-ministers were introduced for no other reason than to show that the president was keeping his part of the bargain (with the understanding that they may not actually survive the vote). In those cases where the president would however like to force his hand, although there do not seem to be that many ministers that he would feel strongly about, he will be confronted with a new bill passed by Parliament last week, barring him from appointing voted-off candidates as acting ministers – an attempt to prevent a repeat of the past, when Assadullah Khaled and Chakari, who were rejected by Parliament as ministers of Border Affairs and Haj, simply turned up at the office the next day and served as acting ministers until recently. Before the vote the president had already issued a decree putting the current deputy ministers in charge as acting ministers.
But whatever happens, it is clear that for the moment the country only has a core Cabinet, and it may well take weeks again before new candidates are introduced, have presented their credentials and are taken to the vote.
The vote results, from high to low, are:
Farouq Wardak (Education): 155 for, 73 against, 1 blank, 2 invalid
Hanif Atmar (Interior): 147 for, 77 against, 3 blank, 2 invalid
Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal (Finance): 141 for, 84 against, 5 blank, 1 invalid
Wahid Shahrani (Mines): 140 for, 78 against, 13 blank, 1 invalid
Asef Rahimi (Agriculture): 136 for, 89 against, 3 blank, 2 invalid
Rahim Wardak (Defense): 124 for, 100 against, 6 blank, 1 invalid
Seyd Makhdum Raheen (Culture): 120 for, 93 against, 14 blank, 4 invalid
Banou Ghazanfar (Women’s Affairs): 115 for, 109 against, 8 blank, 1 invalid
Ismail Khan (Energy & Water): 111 for, 109 against 5 blank, 5 invalid
Seyyed Amin Fatemi (Health): 102 for, 120 against, 5 blank, 3 invalid
Enayatullah Baleegh (Haj): 108 for, 115 against, 6 blank, 2 invalid
Sarwar Danesh (Justice): 96 for, 127 against, 7 blank, 6 invalid
Obaidullah Obaid (Higher Education): 94 for, 121 against, 12 blank, 4 invalid
Sangeen (Telecommunication): 92 for, 130 against, 8 blank, 1 invalid
Anwar ul-Haq Ahadi (Economy): 91 for, 130 against, 7 blank, 3 invalid
Wais Barmak (MRRD): 90 for, 127 against, 9 blank, 4 invalid
Yusuf Pashtun (Urban Development): 88 for, 127 against, 15 blank, 1 invalid
Enayatullah Nazari (Refugees): 82 for, 133 against, 11 blank, 3 invalid
Mohammadullah Batash (Transport): 82 for, 138 against, 9 blank, 3 invalid
Gholam Eylaghi (Commerce): 76 for, 138 against, 13 blank, 4 invalid
Hamed Gailani (Border Affairs): 70 for, 149 against, 11 blank, 2 invalid
Ismail Munshi (Social Affairs): 39 for, 176 against, 14 blank, 2 invalid
Gen. Khodaidad (CN): 36 for, 176 against, 17 blank, 3 invalid
Abdullahi (Public Works): 33 for, 179 against, 17 blank, 2 invalid
(The total number of votes for some reason varied between 229 and 232).
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020