January 12, 2015 / 11:29 AM / 3 years ago

Afghan president finally nominates cabinet ministers

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a event in Kabul January 1, 2015. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani nominated ministers for his new cabinet on Monday, after a wait of more than three months, to try to establish a working government to tackle the violence-racked country’s problems.

Many government institutions have been all-but-paralyzed for a year amid a drawn-out election crisis and uncertainty over whether the withdrawal of most foreign combat troops last month will lead to more violence by Taliban insurgents.

Ghani’s chief of staff announced the 25 cabinet nominees at a ceremony attended by Ghani, who did not speak.

“The government will refer them to the parliament for a vote of confidence,” Ghani chief of staff Abdul Salam Rahimi said, but did not say when the confirmation vote might come.

The president and his election rival-turned-government partner Abdullah Abdullah have spent months wrangling over the makeup of the new cabinet, raising worries over whether their unity government could survive, let alone govern effectively.

Ghani was sworn into office on Sept. 29 after forming a power-sharing deal with Abdullah, who accused him of winning through fraud. The tense election standoff dragged on for months before the breakthrough.

A former and World Bank official, Ghani has promised a reformist, corruption-fighting government made up of technocrats and free from the patronage that marked the regime of his predecessor, long-time President Hamid Karzai.

He fulfilled his vow to include no former government ministers, though the makeup of the government reflected the balancing act to include candidates favored by both the Ghani team and Abdullah’s camp. Both teams includes prominent ethnic and regional power-brokers.

The four most prominent positions were evenly divided between nominees seen as close to the president or to Abdullah, who is the government’s chief executive, a post with expanded powers.

Defence Ministry nominee Sher Mohammad Karimi, chief of staff of the Afghan National Army, is seen as close to Ghani, as is the nominee for finance minister, Ghulam Jilani Popal.

The powerful Interior Ministry post went to Nur ul-Haq Ulumi, who endorsed Abdullah during the campaign. Foreign Ministry nominee Salahuddin Rabbani is also associated with Abdullah.

Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Nick Macfie

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