Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has made two key Cabinet changes, evoking a strong response Saturday from powerful governing partner Abdullah Abdullah amid increasing pressure from the U.S. to reach a peace agreement with the Taliban.
In May 2020, Ghani and political rival Abdullah signed a power-sharing agreement, two months after both declared themselves the winner of the September 2019 presidential election.
Under the deal, Ghani remained president of the war-torn nation while Abdullah was named head of the country’s National Reconciliation Council, which has the authority to handle and approve all affairs related to Afghanistan’s peace process. Abdullah would also be able to appoint half of Ghani’s Cabinet and issue executive orders.
On Friday, the National Security Council issued decrees on behalf of Ghani in which he dismissed Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi and appointed Hayatullah Hayat as caretaker minister. In recent years, Hayat has served as governor of southern Kandahar province.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Yasin Zia was appointed acting defense minister, replacing Asadullah Khalid.
There was little explanation for the changes, but the moves angered Abdullah. “This decision is against the interests of the country in the current situation and is unacceptable,” he said in a statement released Saturday.— AP