CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that he will respect the Afghan parliament’s decision to remove two key ministers from office, a dramatic change in leadership during a pivotal stage in NATO’s 11-year war.
Afghan lawmakers voted Saturday to impeach Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Besmillah Mohammadi, both of whom have worked on the United States’ most costly – and most delicate – security initiatives. Their impeachment, which comes during a key stage of NATO’s troop and civilian drawdown, marks a sharp articulation of public discontent, but leaves a number of unanswered questions about the fate of Afghanistan’s two most prominent ministries.
Parliamentarians justified the impeachment by lobbing a number of criticisms at Wardak and Mohammadi, including accusations of corruption and their unwillingness to respond to cross-border rockets fired from Pakistan.
Although Karzai vowed Sunday to replace the two ministers, he praised their service and asked both men to remain in their positions until their successors are named. In the past, impeached officials have remained in such “acting” roles for several years at Karzai’s request.
But many of the country’s lawmakers say Karzai isn’t responding quickly enough to their demands and that his inaction threatens to stymie the body’s substantial reforms. Wary that Karzai might not act swiftly in response to the parliament’s vote, Afghan lawmakers were outspoken in their insistence that new ministers be named promptly.