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Afghan Lawmakers Approve 16 Cabinet Members; Only Defense Post Unfilled

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (next to flag) briefed members of his largely unfilled cabinet in Kabul on April 15.

Afghan officials have broken months of stalemate over a new government with the April 18 approval by lawmakers of 16 more cabinet nominees, leaving only the defense minister's post to be filled.

Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, the speaker of the lower house of Afghanistan's parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, was quoted by AP as noting that the 25-member cabinet was nearly complete.

Eight nominees had already been approved.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomed the decision, saying that "it is imperative in the interests of effective governance that a full cabinet be in office."

President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, who entered into a power-sharing deal in September amid a dispute over who won the presidential election, have been unable to cement a pick for defense minister.

Two nominees have already been eliminated, the first voted down in January and the second withdrawing from consideration earlier this month.

Ghani's administration has been hamstrung by the failure to get its cabinet choices approved.

There are four women are among the newly appointed ministers, including Farida Momand at the Higher Education Ministry, Nasreen Oryakhil at the country's Labor Ministry, Dilbar Nazari at the Women's Affairs Ministry, and Salamat Azimi at the Counternarcotics Ministry.

Also on April 18, at least 33 people were killed and more than 100 injured in Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad in a suicide attack that Ghani said was orchestrated by the Mideast-based militant group Islamic State (IS).

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan and AP
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