Afghan president to form new cabinet in ‘near future’

Kabul, Nov 24 (DPA) The new cabinet for President Hamid Karzai, who was re-elected in a poll marred by massive fraud, is expected to be announced “in a near future”, his spokesman said Tuesday.

Karzai, who was sworn in for a second five-year term Thursday, has been under international pressure to cleanse his administration by excluding corrupt officials and crack down on endemic graft.

“The president is working in consultation with the experts, with the national leaders and his advisers to come up with the cabinet,” chief presidential spokesman Humayun Hamidzada said. “It will be done in a very near future.”

Hamidzada said the new cabinet would be proposed to parliament for approval before legislators take their annual winter holidays.

Under Afghanistan’s constitution, all cabinet members and heads of independent government entities must get a vote of confidence from the parliament.

Parliament spokesman Haseeb Noori said the six-week winter holiday would start in two weeks, but that lawmakers were ready to delay it by a few days in order to give their approval to the new ministers.

Hamidzada rejected reports that Karzai had issued arrest warrants for two cabinet ministers under investigation for alleged corruption. “There are no arrest warrants for the cabinet ministers,” he said.

Deputy Attorney General Fazel Ahmad Faqeryar told DPA Tuesday that several current and former ministers were being investigated by his office for their involvement in corruption.

But he said there was insufficient evidence to indict anyone. He refused to name names.

Western leaders have accused Karzai of being unable to tackle the corruption in his administration, which they believe has sapped the support for the Afghan government and more than 100,000 international troops in the country.

The West has also warned Karzai that he risks losing international support for his government if he fails to rein in widespread corruption.

Karzai has repeatedly said that no corrupt official would have a place in his new administration and vowed during his inauguration speech to end the culture of impunity.