Afghan president accepts sacking of top ministers
KABUL - Agence France-Presse
A picture dated 24 July 2011 shows Abdul Rahim Wardak (R), Afghan Defense Minister and Besmullah Mohammadi, Interior Minister (L) attending a security transition ceremony in Panjshir, Afghanistan. EPA photo
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday accepted a decision by parliament to dismiss his two top security ministers but asked them to continue in an temporary capacity until they can be replaced.
Parliament's vote of no confidence in Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi on Saturday came amid tension with Pakistan and increasing insurgent attacks as NATO prepares to withdraw its troops.
The lawmakers charged that the ministers had failed in their handling of cross-border shelling barrages blamed on neighbouring Pakistan and other security issues in a country facing an insurgency by hardline Taliban Islamists.
At a National Security Council meeting Sunday, Karzai "thanked the ministers for their hard work and dedication" and asked them to continue in office until replacements are introduced, his office said in a statement.
The government would "not only decorate them with highest state medals of honour, but would ask them to continue as experienced and dedicated persons to serve their nation and their country in other capacities within the government," the statement said.
After similar moves against other ministers by parliament in the past, Karzai has at times kept them serving in an acting capacity for several months.
Parliament's dismissal of the two security ministers -- particularly Wardak, who has strong support among Afghanistan's Western allies -- comes at a critical time for Karzai's government.
NATO has some 130,000 US-led troops in Afghanistan helping Karzai's government fight the insurgency, but they will pull out by the end of 2014, handing responsibility for security to Afghan forces.