February 24, 2016 / 5:19 PM / in 2 years

Ghani nominates new Afghan interior minister, attorney general

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan December 31, 2015. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani nominated a new interior minister and attorney general on Wednesday, moves the government hopes will help stabilize a worsening security situation and soothe political tensions within the coalition government.

Parliamentary opposition means Ghani’s administration has struggled to fill key posts since coming to power as part of a power-sharing agreement after a disputed election in 2014.

The political infighting has hobbled the fight against the growing Taliban insurgency, at the same time the withdrawal of NATO troops at the end of 2014 placed Afghan forces under greater pressure.

Last year, breakaway militant factions added to the government’s woes when they announced allegiance to Islamic State and began taking over territory, expanding the group’s foothold in one of the world’s most volatile regions.

Major General Taj Mohammed Jahid, currently serving as commander of the army’s 207th Corps in western Afghanistan, is nominated to be the new interior minister, the presidential palace announced.

Mohammed Farid Hamidi, formerly a member of the Human Rights Commission, was nominated as attorney general.

Both nominations have to be formally approved by parliament, which has blocked several of Ghani’s appointments, including all his nominations for defense minister.

The country is also without a spy master after the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service resigned in December to protest Ghani’s rapprochement with neighboring Pakistan, whom many Afghans suspect supports the insurgency.

The current interior minister, Noor-ul-Haq Olomi, has been appointed ambassador to the Netherlands.

Multiple government sources told Reuters in early February that Olomi had offered his resignation, but that Ghani was wanted to name a successor before he accepted it.

The moves are the latest indication of upheaval within the national unity government, in which Ghani shares power with his rival, Abdullah Abdullah.

Parliament moved to launch a no-confidence motion in November against Olomi, who was initially nominated by Abdullah.

Reporting by Mirwais Harooni, writing by Josh Smith; editing by Katharine Houreld

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