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Afghan Defense Minister Nominee Withdraws

The Afghan cabinet's latest choice for defense minister has dropped out.

In a statement on April 8, General Mohammad Afzal Ludin said, "I feel that some may use my candidacy as an excuse to create problems for my country, so I am withdrawing."

President Ashraf Ghani nominated the former Soviet-era commander this week to take charge of the military at a time when Afghan forces are battling the Taliban largely alone after most foreign combat troops withdrew at the end of 2014.

Ludin was the second to be nominated for the defense minister post after the cabinet rejected the first in January.

Afghanistan's government of national unity was formed in September 2014 after months of wrangling following a disputed presidential election.

Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have since struggled to form a cabinet, with only eight ministerial appointments.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Khaama Press