Afghanistan's parliament has rejected the majority of President Hamid Karzai's nominees for his new cabinet.
Of 24 nominees, only seven were approved by members of parliament who
showed their distaste for Mr. Karzai's choices through a secret ballot
Among those rejected were incumbent Energy Minister Ismail Khan, a
former warlord accused of human rights abuses. Parliament also rejected
the only female in the Cabinet, the incumbent minister of Women's
It did approve the incumbent ministers of Defense, Interior and Finance - key players in Afghanistan's war and reconstruction.
Mr. Karzai must submit another round of nominees for parliamentary
approval before the new government can officially begin work.
Also Saturday, the Afghan Election Commission announced parliamentary
elections will take place on May 22, despite international pressure to
postpone the polls until the government addresses corruption that
marred last August's presidential vote.
As the parliamentary vote took place, Mr. Karzai was in Helmand
province meeting the current defense and interior ministers, as well as
the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley
Mr. Karzai also met Helmand families, expressing condolences for
Afghans killed in the U.S.-led fight against the Taliban. He told local
residents that if they want to be protected, they have to bring their
sons to the national army.
In eastern Khost province, the international security force in
Afghanistan said it captured a cell leader of the Haqqani network in an
operation with Afghan forces late Friday night.
The Haqqani network is allied with the Taliban and is considered one of the deadliest militant factions in Afghanistan.