KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani nominated a new cabinet on Monday after more than three months of disagreements with his election rival-turned-government partner Abdullah Abdullah.
Here are some details about the backgrounds and loyalties of nominees to key posts, including the non-cabinet position of intelligence chief.
Ministry of Defence - Lieutenant General Sher Mohammad Karimi: The current Afghan army chief of staff, Karimi, 69, is an ethnic Pashtun born in Khost Province in the east. He was the first Afghan to graduate from Britain’s prestigious Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Exiled during the Taliban’s five-year rule and after their fall in 2001, he worked his way up the ranks of the new Afghan army, heading up special forces and attending training courses in the United States. Karimi worked closely with Ghani during the president’s former job as head of transferring responsibility for security to Afghan troops from NATO-led forces.
Ministry of Interior – Nur ul-Haq Ulumi: A former Communist Party member and general in the army of Afghanistan’s 1980s Soviet-backed government, Ulumi, 66, is an ethnic Pashtun from Kandahar province in the south. After the fall of the Taliban, he served as a member of parliament and chaired the Defence Committee. His political party endorsed Abdullah Abdullah in last year’s election and he is seen as an Abdullah pick.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Salahuddin Rabbani: The current chairman of the High Peace Council tasked with opening negotiations with the Taliban, Rabbani, 44, is an ethnic Tajik from far-northeastern Badakhshan province. He is the oldest son of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who later headed the Peace Council but was assassinated by insurgents at his home in Kabul. Rabbani is a well-known supporter of Abdullah.
Ministry of Finance - Ghulam Jilani Popal: Kabul-born Popal, 59, studied law in the capital. An ethnic Pashtun, he is a longtime supporter of former president Hamid Karzai, who appointed him as the first director general of the independent directorate local governance in 2007. In 2012 he was appointed as the governance advisor to Karzai. He campaigned for Ghani last year and is seen as a close ally of the new president.
Head of National Directorate of Security - Rahmatullah Nabil Nabil, 45, is the current acting director for National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency. An ethnic Pashtun, he studied engineering in Pakistan and worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He later served as head of presidential palace security forces for Karzai. Nabil began work at NDS in 2010 and is seen as close to both Karzai and Ghani.
Reporting by Kay Johnson; Editing by Gareth Jones