Afghan leader without cabinet after 100 days

Ashraf Ghani remains without a cabinet 100 into office, after failing to agree on key portfolios with rival Abdullah.

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has marked 100 days in office as he continues to struggle to name a cabinet, creating a political stalemate that threatens to hamper the fight against the Taliban.

    A unity government was formed in September 2014 after Ghani agreed to a power-sharing deal with his political opponent Abdullah Abdullah, but the two men have since failed to agree on senior cabinet positions.

    Abdullah was appointed "chief executive" - a new role similar to prime minister.

    The deal was seen as saving Afghanistan from the risk of imminent civil war, but it was soon bogged down in disagreements over which side's loyalists would take key portfolios such as interior and defence minister.

    Ghani has repeatedly missed his own deadlines on forming a government and asked Afghans to show patience.


    The political vacuum comes at a sensitive time as Taliban fighters push to exploit the end of NATO's combat mission on December 31 after 13 years of fighting.

    Kate Clark, a senior analyst for the Afghanistan Analysts Network, told Al Jazeera that though Ashraf came to power promising to tackle problems like "insurgency, a horrible economy and a dysfunctional state," he cannot solve those problems without a government.

    "Both men obviously want to get their men into the cabinet and there's been a deadlock," she said.

    "Since 2001, state positions have been seen as ways of distributing patronage; often ways of distributing spoils to different parties.

    "[Former president Hamid] Karzai used it as a way of ensuring that allies and opponents were inside the state and, frankly, a lot of money has been made by various people in power."

    The Taliban on Tuesday mocked Ghani and Abdullah for "making fools of themselves" over the cabinet delay.

    "They will say it is because the weather is too cold ... they need more time until it gets warmer," the group said in a statement.

    'Deteriorating security' 

    Essential aid money from donor nations could be held up if no government is formed.

    "The delay has emboldened the enemy to step up attacks, and undermined the legitimacy of the unity government because security has deteriorated and the economy is down," political analyst Mia Gul Waseeq told the AFP news agency.

    "The international community wants an accountable and corruption-free cabinet."

    Ghani started off in office by signing a long-delayed security deal with the US.

    The pact allowed US-led troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 - a step seen as crucial to beating back the Taliban, but which had been rejected by Ghani's predecessor Hamid Karzai.

    About 17,000 foreign troops will remain in Afghanistan this year, focusing on training the Afghan security forces and conducting a limited counterterrorism mission.

    Ghani has worked to improve badly-frayed ties with the US, and also with Pakistan, which has an influential role as fighters seek safe havens on both sides of its border.

    A web project called Sad Roz ("100 days") said that out of 110 verified government promises, 83 were unstarted, 23 in progress and four achieved.

    The achieved goals were the post-2014 security deal, an access to information law, abolishing one bureaucratic department and lifting a travel ban on a New York Times reporter.

    Ghani has also reopened investigations into the collapse of Kabul Bank - the single biggest corruption scandal since 2001, when the Taliban were removed from power.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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