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Karzai seeking more technocrats in cabinet
Updated: 2004-12-14 20:46

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking fewer warlords and more technocrats in his new cabinet to carry out reform in the drug-plagued country, a government source told AFP.

"Some of the old faces are still trying to get chairs and the people of Afghanistan voted for new faces. People voted for them to be removed," the source said on Tuesday.

Karzai is expected to name his cabinet sometime this week.

The Afghan leader came to power in late 2001 on the back of a US-led military invasion spearheaded on the ground by former anti-Taliban fighters who went on to take powerful positions in his interim administration.

By having many of the powerful warlords in his government Karzai was unable to push for reform and stem the country's booming opium crop, which has leapt 64 percent over the last year and made Afghanistan the world's largest producer.

He has been hamstrung in his ability to extend the government's control into the provinces, which have been run by militia commanders as regional fiefdoms.

But after storming to victory in Afghanistan's first presidential election on October 9, Karzai now has a mandate to pick a government which can steer the country away from drugs and the influence of warlords.

Presidential spokesman Jawed Ludin told reporters that Karzai was currently engaged in talks with senior ex-mujahedin commanders about the composition of the new goverment.

"Work on changes to the government, to the present structure of the government and the composition of the government is ongoing and the president believes the more consultations take place, the better," Ludin said at a regular press briefing.

Ludin added that no decision had yet been made on the cabinet.

The government source said Karzai promised "that it will not be a coalition government and that all the ministers are professionals who will work for Afghanistan."

In forming his cabinet Karzai must deal with the fact that Afghanistan's constitution stipulates ministers should have higher education, but many powerful figures were deprived of an education by years of conflict.

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