Afghan MPs approve 11 Cabinet picks after months of stalemate

KABUL — Afghanistan’s parliament on Monday approved 11 nominees for ministerial posts after months of deadlock, following a string of sackings and resignations in the embattled unity government.

More than half of the Cabinet’s 25 ministerial posts, including the crucial defense and interior chiefs, have remained unfilled for months.

Many of the posts have been left vacant after the ministers were fired by parliament for a range of offenses including incompetence and failure to manage their budgets.

Political quarrels between factions loyal to President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have also seen officials abandon the fragile government in droves.

“Of 12 nominees that the government presented to us, 11 were approved and became ministers,” said parliament chairman Abdul Raouf Ibrahimi, adding that the lone female in the group nominated for the post of minister of mines was rejected.

“We congratulate the approved ministers,” he added.

The endorsements come as the Taliban have intensified their attacks, while the national unity government continues to be sapped by infighting between rivals.

Afghan police and troops — beset by a high death toll, desertions and non-existent “ghost soldiers” on the payroll — have been struggling to beat back the insurgents since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.

In April, the Afghan defense minister and his army chief resigned days after one of the deadliest-ever Taliban attacks on a military base triggered calls for officials to step down.

The coordinated attack left over 100 soldiers killed or wounded in northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and interior ministry post was left vacant since August after the former minister resigned. — AFP