Karzai to unveil cabinet 'in days'

 

Afghan president Hamid Karzai will unveil his new cabinet within days, a spokesman said today, adding that efforts to start talks with Taliban insurgents and implementing anti-corruption measures were under way.

Mr Karzai has been under intense pressure from Washington and its Western allies fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and bankrolling its economy, to crack down on graft and appoint technocrats in his cabinet, rather than former "warlords".

A Karzai spokesman said the new cabinet would be announced in the next three days.

"It will happen in three days time. It may be announced either tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or the one afterward," Hamid Elmi said.

Sworn in last month for a second five-year term, Mr Karzai's reputation was severely damaged after a UN-backed inquiry found nearly a third of votes cast for him in an Aug. 20 election were fake. He pledged in his inauguration speech to name competent and honest ministers.

"The president is still consulting with politicians, experts and elders to come up with a cabinet which all the people of Afghanistan can see as a mirror," Mr Elmi said.

Last Tuesday, US president Barack Obama pledged an additional 30,000 troops for Afghanistan, as US public support for the war wanes. The conflict is at its deadliest since the Taliban were overthrown in 2001 and Mr Karzai was appointed leader.

Last month Afghanistan said it would a hold a conference on corruption in the near future. A deputy attorney general has also said two Afghan cabinet ministers were being investigated under suspicion of embezzlement.

Mr Karzai is also keen to move ahead with plan for a "Loya Jirga" - or grand council - to reignite efforts to engage with the Taliban.

Reuters