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Cabinet wobbles…

January 19, 2015

Summary: A weak and fragmented government is more dangerous than the Taliban.  Early reports that all may not be well in the new government line up…

ghani and Abdullah reach transition agreementI was about to congratulate Ashraf Ghani for constructing a new cabinet – with the help of Dr Abdullah Abdullah – in a relatively short space of time.  It had taken three months but last week the new line up was announced.  Hamid Karzai’s last attempt to piece something together took over a year, I seem to recall.  But there already appear to be some difficulties with the line-up according to RFE:

RFE/RL, 19 Jan 2015: It took months to piece together, but Afghanistan’s proposed cabinet is at risk of falling apart quickly, as nominees come under scrutiny for dual citizenship, alleged criminal activities, and being underage.

Just a week after President Ashraf Ghani and election rival Abdullah Abdullah proposed their new cabinet, the names of about half the 27 nominees could be thrown out.

Such a result would be a blow to President Ghani, whose efforts to forge a “unity” government with Abdullah took more than three months.

Negotiations with Abdullah, who in his role as government chief executive was given a share of nominees, were reportedly tense. But when the names were announced on January 13, the list appeared to meet Ghani’s promises to form a cabinet full of new faces chosen on merit and free of Kabul’s strong patronage system.

Lets not get worked up just yet.  Some of these individual issues might resolve themselves and this does not yet seem to a major fracture, just some early wobbles as the candidates naturally come under public and media scrutiny.  But an agreed – and even more importantly, a well-functioning – set of government ministers in place is crucial to the country’s future.  Too many of Afghanistan’s post-Taliban years have been in some form of unintentional (or intentional) hiatus.  Vital time and resources have been frittered away failing to agree political, military and economic plans.  Compromises do not seem to come easy to Afghan senior political hierarchies.  I believe that a fractured government, self-absorbed with internal rivalries will be much more likely to open the door to insurgents and wider instability than the actions of the insurgents themselves.


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