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Afghan Parliament votes to oust key ministers

Sunday, August 05, 2012    

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan Parliament voted yesterday to dismiss the country's defence and interior ministers, a move that threatens to throw the country's security apparatus into confusion as foreign forces withdraw.

The vote demanded the dismissal of two of President Hamid Karzai's key security lieutenants: Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, one of the top Afghan officials most trusted by Washington, and Interior Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi.

Legislators faulted the two for what they view as the Government's weak response to cross-border attacks that Afghans blame on the Pakistani military, with lawmakers asking why Afghanistan has not launched a military response. The parliamentarians also asked the ministers about allegations of corruption within their ministries and alleged security lapses that led to recent assassinations of top officials.

The Parliament then passed a measure to remove Wardak by a vote of 146 to 72. A separate vote of no confidence on Mohammadi passed 126 to 90. Both measures needed 124 votes to pass.

"Both ministers are disqualified from their positions and we request His Excellency President Karzai to introduce new ministers for these positions as soon as possible," Abdul Raouf Abrahimi, speaker of the lower house of Parliament, said after the vote.

It is unclear if the two will immediately leave their posts. Parliament occasionally flexes its muscle to thwart Karzai's policies or appointments, but the Constitution places most power in the president's hands.

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