Afghanistan parliament approves cabinet nominees

Decision means 25-member cabinet is nearly complete as deadly assault underscores President Ghani's security challenge.

    Afghanistan parliament approves cabinet nominees
    Saturday's attacks in the city of Jalalabad killed at least 33 people and injured more than 100 others [Reuters]

    Afghanistan's parliament has approved 16 cabinet nominees after months of delays against a backdrop of attacks in which dozens of people died in the country's east.

    Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, speaker of the parliament's lower house, said on Saturday that the decision now means the 25-member cabinet of President Ashraf Ghani is nearly complete.

    There still has not been a defence minister approved by parliament as Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the chief executive officer, have disagreed on who to nominate for the position.

    Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul on Sunday, said: "This is a great step forward for the government considering that in the last vote in February, only eight of the 25 nominees were approved.

    "However, the disagreement between Abdullah and Ghani over who to nominate for defence minister is a big sticking point."

    Jennifer Glasse reports on the Jalalabad attacks

    The lack of ministers has caused problems for Ghani's government, slowing its work and upsetting many people in the country.

    A UN-sponsored report, which found that government officials who headed oversight of the police had suppressed complaints of corruption against the force, has recommended their dismissal, Reuters news agency reported on Sunday.

    The developments come as concern persists over the high level of violence in the country.

    Saturday morning's bombings in Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province, killed at least 33 people and injured more than 100 others.

    The Taliban denied responsibility, with Zabiullah Mujahid, a group spokesperson, saying: "It is a sad incident. The mujahideen [Taliban] had no role in it."

    ISIL blamed

    Ghani said the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group had claimed responsibility.

    Speaking in the northern city of Faizabad, Ghani said: "In the horrific incident in Nangarhar, who took responsibility? The Taliban didn't claim responsibility. Daesh claimed responsibility for it."

    Daesh is the Arabic term for ISIL.

    The Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs said two other motorcycle bombs were defused in the vicinity of the earlier attacks.

    However, Amrullah Saleh, a former head of Afghanistan's domestic intelligence agency, cast doubt on Ghani's claim.

    Reacting to the bombing on Twitter, he said ISIL was not active in Afghanistan and blaming the group was done with the " intent to hide incompetence" of the government.

    Echoing Saleh's comments, Haroun Mir, a Kabul-based political analyst, said it is "still too early" to conclude that ISIL-linked groups were responsible" for the Jalalabad assasult.

    "We don't have hard evidence of ISIL activities in Afghanistan," he told Al Jazeera.

    It is "difficult" for the Afghan government to blame the Taliban for the attacks because it is "engaged in a dialogue" with the group, Mir said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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