KABUL — Afghanistan’s political gridlock showed signs of ending as President Ashraf Ghani unveiled a list of his cabinet nominees Monday, more than three months after a U.S.-brokered power-sharing government took office.
The unity government was conceived after both Ghani and his chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah, claimed victory in a troubled presidential election, threatening to further fuel ethnic rifts and instability. With Abdullah installed in the newly fashioned post of chief executive, the country was pulled back from the brink of civil strife.
But tensions persisted as both Ghani and Abdullah squabbled over ministerial posts. In particular, the powerful ministries of defense and interior were heavily argued over, even as Taliban insurgents escalated attacks in the capital and sought to seize advantage amid the withdrawal of most U.S. and other international forces from the country at the end of 2014.
The announcement Monday of the 25 cabinet nominations represented the first step in Ghani’s endeavor to create a modern Afghanistan. All the choices will need the approval of parliament.
The names of the cabinet picks were read out by Ghani’s chief of staff, Abdul Salam Rahimi, in a nationally televised ceremony at the presidential palace here in the Afghan capital.
The Afghan army’s chief of staff, Sher Mohammad Karimi, was nominated for defense minister. The ethnic Pashtun general, who is from the eastern province of Khost and was educated in Britain, is widely seen as close to Ghani, who also is Pashtun.
The nominee for interior minister is Nur ul-Haq Ulomi, a former member of parliament and senior military official under the Soviet-backed government of President Najibullah. Ulomi, an ethnic Pashtun from the southern province of Kandahar, had endorsed Abdullah in the presidential election. Abdullah is of mixed Pashtun and Tajik ethnicity.
Rahmatullah Nabil, the head of Afghanistan’s domestic intelligence agency, will remain in his position if approved by lawmakers.
All three security agencies will play a significant role this year in trying to contain a resurgent Taliban at a time when conflict still plagues the country. Record numbers of Afghan security personnel and civilians were killed last year.
Women were nominated to the cabinet posts for higher education, women’s affairs, and information and culture.
In a statement, the U.S. Embassy welcomed the cabinet nominations, saying that “the United States looks forward to continued close cooperation with the government of Afghanistan in our shared pursuit of security, peace and prosperity for the people of Afghanistan.”