The Administrative Board of the House of Representatives on Tuesday criticized and admonished the leaders of the national unity government for failing to put their political differences aside and focus on the many pressing national policy issues facing Afghanistan.
House Secretary Irfanullah Irfan suggested ruefully that President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, along with their supporters, are consumed by petty political horse-trading around appointments rather than more important subjects like security, the economy and corruption.
"According to reports, both teams are still engaged on political issues and bargaining over the appointment of the governors, police chiefs and ambassadors, which is quite shocking, they must concentrate on important and bigger topics," Irfan said on Tuesday. Although Ghani and Abdullah were able to agree on nominees, who have since been confirmed, for a number of key ministries as well as the National Directorate of Security (NDS), a large portion of the cabinet remains unfilled.
Political commentators and civil society groups have largely agreed that if the government does not start working toward improving public trust, disaffection and greater instability would likely follow. Many have said the leaders of the national unity government have already failed to meet the commitments they made when they entered office. "If the situation continues this way, we will face a crisis and it will be difficult to stop it," civil society association member Aziz Rafaee told TOLOnews.
Perhaps the only major policy area the national unity government has not avoided amidst the lengthy, opaque appointment processes has been electoral reform. After making allegations that top officials at the Independent Election Commission (IEC) defrauded the 2014 presidential election, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah became the champion of electoral reform within the new government. Although reforms have been made, Abdullah's representatives stress that it remains a priority.
"Reforms in electoral institutions, introduction of remaining cabinet members and governors, ambassadors and the police chiefs are among the top working priorities of the government," said Asif Ashna, a deputy spokesman for Abdullah.
Nevertheless, with a 150 days passed since the national unity government took office, and only eight cabinet ministers and an NDS chief named, most of the country remains administered by acting officials rolled-over from the Hamid Karzai administration. Irfanullah Irfan has advocated for the government to finalize the names of the remaining cabinet nominees before lawmakers return from Parliament's winter recess. After that, however, they will still need to name all new governors and police chiefs.
Beyond appointments, the new government still faces a daunting uphill climb when it comes to national policy needs. Restoring security, addressing unemployment, fighting corruption, promoting rule of law and reforming the election commissions are all policy objectives that will require more cooperation than discord and more sacrifice than self-service.
"If they continue concentrating on the small issues and do not focus on the bigger issues, people will become tired and they will show their alienation from both their leaders and the system," Irfan said.