Having cemented his dubious election victory, Afghan President Hamid Karzai looked to secure his stranglehold on the nation’s political power last month, appointing a “new” cabinet full of retreads, cronies, and warlords, much to the disappointment of the nation’s reformists, who sought a cure for the ever-present corruption in government.
But the Afghan Parliament today did something nobody expected, slapping down 17 out of 24 nominees as corrupt or unqualified. The move was met with broad approval among cynical Afghan voters and analysts, who lauded the parliament’s newfound assertiveness.
The move will probably do serious damage to President Karzai’s attempts to present himself as a unifier who can target corruption, a position already in serious doubt after the disastrous August election campaign. Still, Karzai insisted he was ok with parliament’s decision.
Seemingly the only person not ok with the move is outgoing UN mission chief Kai Eide, who called the move a “setback” for the cause of reform, and cautioned about a power vacuum. Eide has already tendered his resignation amid charges that he helped cover up electoral fraud on Karzai’s behalf, and his condemnation of parliamentary oversight will likely do further harm to the UN mission’s credibility as an autonomous group.