Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Afghanistan Fires 7 From Cabinet in Intensifying Political Crisis - nytimes

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s Parliament has dismissed seven government ministers over the past four days, adding to the woes of a fragile coalition that for months had bickered over filling the cabinet positions in the first place.

The suddenly vacated cabinet positions, adding to two ministries already vacant because of resignations, will further bog down the work of a government that has struggled to get its house in order while also facing emboldened Taliban offensives and decreasing support across the country.

The Afghan Parliament began hearings last week over what lawmakers said was the ministers’ inability to spend the national development budget. The dismissal of one minister on Tuesday brought the total to seven ministers dismissed out of 12 who had been called for hearings, including the ministers of foreign affairs, public works, information technology, labor and social work, education, higher education and transportation.

Publicly, President Ashraf Ghani has challenged the legality of the hearings and asked the dismissed ministers to continue with their jobs until the country’s Supreme Court makes a final ruling. He also told ministers not to show up for the hearings, more of which are scheduled in the coming days.

Parliament, which itself has been in a legal limbo since its term officially expired more than a year ago with no date set for elections, has refused the government’s pleas to stop the hearings. And Hajji Zahir Qadir, the deputy speaker of the Parliament, said on Tuesday that despite President Ghani’s claims, the ministers’ dismissal could not be reversed by the Supreme Court.

“If the government is just fooling itself, that’s a separate issue,” Mr. Qadir said.

But that is far from the only issue. Some analysts believe that a byzantine political intrigue may be underway: that the cabinet purge might have some degree of support from Mr. Ghani, despite his public protestations.

Supporting that argument is that some of the dismissed ministers were already under scrutiny by Mr. Ghani on accusations of incompetence or corruption, but had such powerful political patrons that few observers thought the president was politically strong enough to fire them. - Read More

Afghanistan Fires 7 From Cabinet in Intensifying Political Crisis


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