Tags: Karzai | cabinet | picks | pressure

Karzai Faces Scrutiny on Cabinet Picks

Monday, 07 December 2009 10:57 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan faces a decisive test of his pledge to reduce corruption and cronyism when he names members of his new government as early as Tuesday, Afghan and Western officials say.

The appointment of the 25-member cabinet has put the embattled Afghan leader in a difficult spot: choosing between rewarding the warlords and others who helped secure his disputed re-election and answering demands to curb widespread corruption from President Obama and other Western leaders whose militaries are fighting an ever-deadlier Afghan insurgency.

Mr. Karzai has drawn support from a patchwork of traditional Afghan power brokers, some with brutal reputations, but he has also been warned that Western financial support hinges on the appointment of reform-minded ministers who will not steal or waste foreign aid money. Mr. Obama has also vowed that the Afghan government will no longer be given a “blank check.”

Mr. Karzai “is being torn apart by pressure from the West for reform, and by demands by people who supported him with votes in exchange for ministries,” said Abdullah Abdullah, who finished second to Mr. Karzai in the Aug. 20 election.

A United Nations-backed commission found evidence of widespread electoral fraud, but Mr. Karzai was proclaimed the winner last month after Mr. Abdullah withdrew from a planned runoff because he said he could not get a fair vote.

Some officials said they believed that more than half of the cabinet would be replaced, but they cautioned that any list of nominees, which must be approved in Parliament, could be changed up to the last minute.

“Karzai has made so many promises that it’s tough to fulfill them all,” one official said.

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Monday, 07 December 2009 10:57 PM
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