Parliament Awaits Vote of Confidence: How well are Ghani and Abdullah Sharing Power?

President Ashraf Ghani met with Mir Rahman Rahmani, the speaker of the Lower House of Parliament on Monday to discuss the ministerial candidates picked by Ghani.

Ghani had promised his ‘acting’ ministers that the vote of confidence will go through soon and they will be appointed to the lower house, Wolesi Jirga.

However, since the start of the National Unity Government in 2014, post the deal between Ghani and then-Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, the cabinet has never been completed.

Most of the cabinet had been run by ‘acting’ ministers, pending the vote of confidence.

Nearly a month has passed since Ghani promised the Wolesi Jirga that things will be different.

However, the cabinet is once again comprised of acting ministers.

Although a political agreement on the division of power has been signed between Ghani and Abdullah who is now the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), the future of some parliamentarians remain bleak.

The May power-sharing agreement

According to the power-sharing agreement signed last month between Ghani and Abdullah, all the ministries, independent departments, government commissions and institutions with authority and power were to be divided equally between the two. There have been no clear guidelines on the divisions in the cabinet and other institutions announced yet.
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Ghani has nominated several ministers, including foreign affairs, finance, information and culture, women, health, and other independent departments. However, the other power in the government, Abdullah has yet not appointed people to his anticipated ministries.

Abdullah had five deputy positions in the HCNR which remain empty, despite multiple reassurance to the public that the council was up and working despite international interest in the intra-Afghan peace negotiations.

While Abdullah does bear the responsibility for handling and approving all matters related to the peace process, there is little proof to show the HCNR has finished getting established.

Another issue which has cropped up is the award of the ‘marshal’ rank to former vice president General Abdul Rashid Dostum, leader of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan political party and a key Abdullah supporter.

One of the conditions of the power-sharing agreement was the award of the honorary marshal title to Dostum who would have become the third person in Afghan history to receive the rank. He was also supposed to be given membership to the HCNR and the National Security Council.

People have questioned the delay and seen it as Ghani’s reluctance to promote Dostum who has also had a chequered past as a warlord in different Afghan conflicts.

Dostum’s daughter Rahila, wrote on her Twitter on Sunday, “Marshal will be coming to Kabul soon and will be honoured at an official ceremony in the presence of Afghan and world leaders.

No one can ignore the struggles and patriotism of Marshal, my father.

The rank is not a gift to my father.”

He served as a vice president in Ghani’s previous presidential administration until Dostum was ousted in 2017 after being accused of torturing and sexually assaulting a political rival.

He was forced into exile in Turkey.

This time around, Dostum had campaigned to support Abdullah against Ghani.

Now his marshal’s rank decree is in Ghani’s hands.

Although Dostum has been away or was kept away from Kabul, in the past few days he has shown the intention of making a return and get what he thinks he deserves under the power-sharing deal.

Contributed by Zackaria Noori; Edited by Anugya Chitransh

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