Two of the three female nominees were rejected, but Amina Afzali was approved for the portfolio of labour, social affairs and disabled.

'Confusing situation'

Al Jazeera's David Chater, reporting from the capital, Kabul, said it was hard to make any predictions about the outcome of the poll.

In depth

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"Many of the political pundits we've been talking to, say not all 17 will get through," he said.

"Maybe 10 will get through, maybe 10 will be rejected. It's still a pretty confusing situation."

Parliament rejected 17 of Hamid Karzai's 24 nominees earlier this month, forcing him to come up with a new list.

During more than a week of hearings, legislators have complained that the new nominees were even less qualified than the previous ones, and said that most were selected because of their ties with major political power brokers.

Vote highlights

Approved:
Zalmay Rasoul (foreign affairs), Habibullah Ghaleb (justice), Mohammad Yasouf Neyazi (religious affairs), Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal (economy), Amina Afzali Labour (social affairs), Jarullah Mansoory (rural development)

Rejected:
Mohammad Hashim Esmatullahi (higher education), Palwasha Hassan (women's affairs), Soraya Dalil (public health), Zaher Wahed (commerce)

Shukria Barakzai, a member of parliament, said a line seemed to have been drawn between those legislators who were not impressed with Karzai's cabinet line-up and those who wanted to finalise the government.

Barakzai said she believed more candidates would pass the second round of voting, but "one thing is sure, not all the nominees will be passed this time either".

Karzai is under pressure to have a government in place ahead of an international conference to be held in London on January 28 to discuss the country's future.

Our correspondent said arriving at the conference without a government approved by parliament would be "embarrassing" for the president.

"It's beginning to look like he won't have a full cabinet when he arrives there. This will be embarrassing for him and leaves Afghanistan in a bit of a political limbo."

Karzai was re-elected in an August presidential poll marred by allegations of fraud.