Afghanistan’s governance woes continue

Nominees for the new cabinet have faced a host of obstacles before even being officially introduced before Parliament

Nominees for the new cabinet have faced a host of obstacles before even being officially introduced before Parliament

KABUL, Afghanistan - Governance woes in war-torn Afghanistan continue as the much-awaited nominees of the new cabinet face an array of challenges even before being formally introduced to the Parliament on Tuesday.

The latest blow in this regard happened on Monday as a nominee has refused a minister post.

Ghulam Jilani Popal declined the finance minister spot for undisclosed reasons.

Popal, who had served as head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance during the administration of former president Hamid Karzai was chosen for this vital post by President Ashraf Ghani.

Sources close to the government told The Anadolu Agency that Popal was likely to be replaced by former ambassador to the U.S. Eklil Ahmad Hakimi.

The longtime diplomat has also served in the People's Republic of China, Mongolia, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Japan.

While Popal has said nothing about his refusal publicly, the local media have evoked alleged bribes and demands of perks by certain parliamentarians in return for nomination approval as a reason for the snub.

It took President Ghani and his Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (the president’s electoral rival) over 100 days to finally agree on a list of potential ministers.

Prior to Popal, another nominee Muhammad Yaqub Haidari made headlines as it became known that he was on Interpol’s Most Wanted list.

The minister of agriculture nominee is wanted for tax evasion and fraud in the northeastern European country of Estonia.

Haidari has acknowledged that he owes around $50,000 in taxes for one of the companies he owns in Estonia.

“I have applied several times but they are not allowing me to enter the country and defend my case,” he told The Anadolu Agency.

The nascent democracy is still struggling in the war-ravaged country that knows numerous spheres of power and influence parallel to the central government.

The country’s economist-turned-politician president has chosen young individuals, new to the political scene, to run ministries.

But this choice has not been without its share of backlash. The powerful former anti-Soviet resistant fighters (Mujahideen), for instance, have already made it clear they would not be neglected.

In effect, Mohammad Ismail Khan from the western Herat province has said that it was a matter of grave concern that “ex-communists” were outnumbering the “Mujahideen” in the new cabinet.

He was clearly targeting the minister of interior nominee, Noor-ul-haq Ulumi, a former general from the communist era.

“Mujahideen, who sacrificed a lot for this country, have been denied cabinet posts,” Khan said this weekend to a reporter.

He also hinted forming a grand alliance of the former Mujahideen commanders to safeguard the country.

Politicians like Ismail Khan, Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf, Younus Qanooni and many more still use their anti-Soviet resistance as the central point of their political agenda,  20 years after the end of the war.

Eleven of the 27 nominees have also been grilled for having the dual nationality.

The parliamentarians have asked the nominated ministers with dual nationalities to revoke their non-Afghan citizenships.

Article 72 of the Constitution stipulates that ministers can only have the Afghan nationality but, ultimately, it is at the discretion of the Wolesi Jirga (Parliament).

Various government departments are reviewing the documents provided for the 25 cabinet nominees and two nominees for the Central Bank and National Directorate of Security.

Afghanistan’s National Unity Government was formed on Sep. 29 2014 when the new President Ashraf Ghani finally took the oath of office after a disputed and prolonged electoral process.

Ghani is set to introduce and defend his cabinet for the vote of confidence from the Parliament on Tuesday.

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