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The Killid Group
Finally, approval for Karzai's cabinetWritten by Mohammad Reza Gulkohi.
Saturday, 10 March 2012 11:16
After making President Hamid Karzai wait for two years, the Wolesi Jirga cleared the appointments of nine ministers. Have both sides buried the past and decided to cooperate?
Most observers were taken by surprise by the smooth passage of the vote of confidence for the Karzai government in Parliament. Mohammad Amin Mirzad, a political observer, says: "Looking at the rivalry of the last two years - which has brought the country to a crisis many times - the quick approval was rather like the Afghan proverb, 'Not so sour, not so salt less'."
Official reaction from Parliament and the president's office suggests a new era of cooperation, not opposition.
Abdul Satar Khawasi, parliamentary secretary, said, "The manner of voting in Parliament showed the fact that the MPs used their votes regardless of zonal, tribal and racial affiliations and equally gave votes to all ministers."
The president expressed his "appreciation" in a declaration. "The president of Afghanistan appreciates the MPs for active participation in the selection of ministers according to the law and wishes the success of new ministers in the way of service to the people of Afghanistan."
The Wolesi Jirga voted in the president's ministerial candidates three days after lawmakers decided that ministers who had already been denied a vote of confidence previously could be re-nominated for the same position - signaling a major breakthrough in the tussle between Karzai and Parliament.
Shahnaz Hemati, a member of parliament (MP), thinks the past will not be repeated. "The president understood parliament's problem which was a result of an existing rule. Parliament was not judging the worth of the candidates. Since the situation was changed (by the amendment to Article 76 of the Internal Rules for Procedure of the Wolesi Jirga on Mar. 3) the president re-introduced the ministers," she said.
However, observers speculate there would have been a great deal of manouvering behind the scenes which enabled the government to pull off the clearance. The Wolesi Jirga voted minutes after very sketchy presentations by the designated ministers when normally these so-called "campaign" speeches would have stretched for hours.
Musa Frewer who teaches in the University of Kabul thinks it is a great shame that Parliament did not scrutinise each candidate's performance before giving approval. "It is much to be regretted. If the MPs want to give their vote to the nominated ministers they should (at least) hear their work plans and vote, based on the judgement of their programme." Frewer adds: "Unfortunately there were invisible deals."
The confirmation would mean lawmakers now have the power to demand accountability from the ministers.
Sayed Jamal Fakoori Beheshti, MP, was among those who supported the amending of the rule to end the impasse over approval from Parliament for Karzai's nominees. In his opinion no lawmakers can demand accountability.
Beheshti told Killid, "No power project has been implemented in Bamiyan in the last 10 years. The people have complained to Amir Ismail (Ismail Khan, minister of water and energy) but no one redressed their grievance." The Afghan Analysts Network (AAN) in a blog says there seems to have been an agreement between the president and Wolesi Jirga on the vote of confidence for heavyweights like Ismail Khan. Nobody else has ever been suggested for his position. In the absence of an alternative, his candidacy was potentially one of the most troublesome. But as it turned out the Wolesi Jirga did not stop Ismail Khan's appointment.
The vote of approval by Parliament completes Karzai's cabinet. Political observer Meerzad considers it a "good omen". "As the cabinet is completed now, we should take it as a good omen, that the antagonism between the government and the parliament has been erased, and the start of cooperation instead of negative competition." He hopes the Afghan president will introduce the chief justice and five justices, and the head of the Afghan Red Crescent, to Parliament soon so they can also get a vote of confidence. "The spirit of cooperation should be dominant in the government," he says.
There is no discernible jubilation on the street to news of the elevation of the ministers from acting ministers. Abdullah, a resident of Kart-e-Char in the capital city, thinks the ministers may become more indifferent to public opinion now they have got the seal of legitimacy from the people's representatives. "It is interesting, before the vote the electricity would go off for two hours daily. On the day the acting minister became minister we had no electricity all day!"
Obaidullah who was waiting for a bus in Mirwais Maidan says, "Before at least a Mili bus (public bus service) would ply this route. But today there is no hope even. The minister (Daud Ali Najafi, minister of transport and civil aviation) has got legal sanction to occupy the ministerial chair. He is immune to public pressure."