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Local UN chief calls Karzai cabinet rejection a 'political setback'

The top UN official in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, said Sunday that the surprise rejection of most of President Hamid Karzai's cabinet nominees was a "political setback" as it would result in weeks and possibly months of uncertainty.


Reuters - The Afghan parliament’s unexpected rejection of over two thirds of President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet nominees is a political setback for the country, the head of the U.N. Afghan mission said on Sunday.

Kai Eide, the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, said the conflict-torn country now faced weeks or even months more uncertaintly about its government at a critical time, even though it was positive to see parliament exercising its rights.

Karzai was due in Britain at the end of January for the London Conference, seeking more funds to rebuild military and civilian institutions, and will now have to do so without being able to say who will manage much of the cash.

Parliament is about to break for several weeks, ruling out a new confirmation process until they return, and Karzai will need time to round up more candidates. Key portfolios now without ministers include energy, commerce and women’s affairs.

“Its a political setback in the sense that it prolongs a situation without a functioning government, and that is a situation that now has lasted since last summer and is particularly worrying of course in a country in conflict,” Eide told journalists in the Afghan capital.

“Much political energy will continue to be absorbed by the formation of a new government.”

The rejection on Saturday of 17 out of Karzai’s 24 cabinet nominees was a surprise. Some candidates had already fixed interviews to discuss their policies, and Karzai himself was visiting the south at the time of the vote.

“The president was surprised, he is of course not happy,” said his spokesman Waheed Omar, adding that Karzai had not decided when a new cabinet would be introduced but would take a caretaker government to London if a full one was not in place.

“This is not a very pleasant situation for the government.”

Omar said however that Karzai, like Eide, respected a situation that showed “the beauty of democracy”.

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