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Karzai names key Cabinet ministers

Delegates sleep after a four-hour session of the historic meeting
Delegates sleep after a four-hour session of the historic meeting  

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan leader Hamid Karzai has named the ministers who will help the country try to rebuild after decades of war and famine.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Abdullah and Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim of Afghanistan's interim government were Wednesday renamed to their posts for the transitional government. Karzai named adviser Ashraf Ghani as finance minister.

In total, Karzai named 14 ministers. He said he would announce others later. He also appointed three deputy presidents and a chief justice to the country's highest court. Fahim was also named a deputy president.

"Do you accept this Cabinet," Karzai asked the loya jirga, the traditional Afghan grand council that is meeting to establish the transitional government. (A very Afghan gathering)

CNN's Gary Tuchman says authorities haven't confirmed a connection between the rocket attacks and the loya jirga meeting

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With Afghanistan's loya jirga encountering difficulties, newly-elected leader Hamid Karzai will try to get the talks back on track. Gary Tuchman reports.
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Focus: A very Afghan gathering 

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loya jirga

After hands went up in support, he said, "All have accepted it and I am happy about it."

Karzai later delivered a speech envisioning a positive future and an end to the horrors that the country has endured. He said he would resign if he could not deliver an effective government.

"We have agreed to the people of Afghanistan that we will bring peace in this country, we will bring dignity to this country, that our sisters and mothers should not have fear of weapons. We do not want this anymore," Karzai said, adding: "I will not accept government that is useless and cannot do anything."

Karzai spoke of human, economic, and social rights for Afghan citizens and said all Afghans should benefit from the fruits of education, health care and economic development. He said security should be under the command of the central government.

"We should safeguard our religion. We should safeguard our independence. We should keep total integrity and keep Afghanistan under one leadership in unity."

He said "normal people" who are members of the Taliban, the former rulers of the country, "should go respectfully to their homes."

Karzai was elected last week to the presidency of the 18-month transitional government, which assumes power Saturday. Karzai, who has been head of the country's interim government since December, said he wanted to be sworn into the transitional position Wednesday.

The loya jirga has not yet come up with a plan for a national assembly. Karzai urged the group to develop one.

The assembly "is your job, not mine," Karzai said, and urged delegates to be chosen to hammer out a blueprint for an assembly.

Meanwhile Afghan officials have blamed a rocket attack in the capital on the penultimate of the meeting on remnants of the ousted and hardline Taliban movement, driven from power last year. (Full story)

'Under pressure'

In coming up with a list, Karzai has been under pressure to please all factions and tribes as well as the United States.(Key players)

"We have more qualified people than we have posts. I wish I could either increase the size of the cabinet or cut down on the number of qualified people," Reuters quoted him as telling the loya jirga on Tuesday.

Since his landslide election last week to the presidency of the 18-month transitional government, all sides have been trying to pull Karzai in different directions.

The Northern Alliance, a coalition of non-Pashtun former Mujahideen fighters who dominate the present administration created under last year's Bonn accord, want to keep their posts in the new government which will run the country until general elections are held in December next year.

Karzai's fellow Pashtuns and supporters of the ex-king Zahir Shah, many of them back from long exile in the West, seek a more balanced government, where their ethnic group, the biggest in the country, will be more fairly represented.

The loya jirga, created under the Bonn accord to shape the structure of the new government, wants to have the final say at least on the cabinet's key portfolios, but has yet to come up with a plan for a national assembly.

Entered the fray

The United States, too, has entered the fray, flexing its muscles to ensure its interests are taken into account.

Lacking cash resources of its own, Afghanistan is still waiting to receive some $4 billion in foreign donations.

In the meantime, Karzai has used emergency funds from the United Nations to finance his interim administration and hopes to get money from the World Bank to pay for his transitional government.

The new interim administration is set to take power on Saturday.




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