U.S. priorities for reforms in Afghanistan’s parliamentary-presidential relationship should include greater parliamentary checks on senior appointments in addition to expanded support for parliamentary training programs on budgetary review and oversight. The parliament holds constitutional authority to approve all presidential nominees for the federal cabinet, but many key offices and agencies responsible for carrying out or setting government policies are headed by Karzai appointees selected without any say from either house of parliament.
Of particular concern is the lack of any parliamentary say in who heads the powerful Independent Directorate for Local Governance, which holds extensive authority at the subnational level; organizations responsible for conducting basic oversight on the government’s activities such as the High Office of Oversight and Anticorruption and the national Control and Audit Office; and the leadership of the new Joint Secretariat meant to coordinate and implement the government’s new Peace and Reintegration Program for insurgent reconciliation efforts.
Karzai took over six months to put forward new nominations for 13 ministerial posts after the parliament rejected many of his two initial rounds of nominees. Seven positions remain unfilled after the most recent round of nominations. Conditioning U.S. assistance to any Afghan ministry or organization on its being led by a minister or director confirmed by an independent parliament would be a basic step toward breaking this deadlock.
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