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Afghanistan: Loya Jirga Approves Karzai's Ministers

Kabul, 19 June 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Afghanistan's Loya Jirga has accepted the transitional government's cabinet ministers proposed by Transitional Authority President Hamid Karzai. The cabinet selection was an ethnically contentious issue during the traditional grand council, but the delegates approved the 14 ministers with a show of hands after Karzai announced their names.

Karzai decided to keep his defense minister, Mohammad Fahim, and his foreign minister, Abdullah Abdullah. The two are members of the Tajik-dominated Northern Alliance that helped topple the Taliban last year.

He selected Taj Mohammed Wardak -- a Pashtun governor -- as interior minister to replace Yunis Qanooni, a Northern Alliance member who moves to education minister. And Karzai, a Pashtun, picked his top adviser Ashraf Ghani, as finance minister. None of the country's major warlords was given a cabinet post.

Karzai told the 1,600 delegates that he will resign if his transitional government does not "bring security and peace" to Afghanistan. "We have promised to the people of Afghanistan through you [the Loya Jirga] and through your votes to bring security and peace and dignity to this country until our mothers and sisters are no longer afraid in their homes of the evil of the guns. And I swear that if I do not act on this promise then I will present my resignation." The Loya Jirga is due to inaugurate Karzai as president later today.

For the latest news on Afghanistan's traditional grand council, please see RFE/RL's special Loya Jirga page.