President swears in new reformist cabinet

Kabul, December 25, 2004 - H.E. President Hamid Karzai swore in a new cabinet today. He took the oaths of 23 of the 27 ministers he named late Thursday, just over two weeks after his own inauguration as the first democratically-elected Afghan leader.

In a ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, the new cabinet members swore with their right hands on the Koran to defend Islam, the constitution and Afghanistan in the name of Allah.

Interior Minister Ali Ahmed Jalali and Commerce Minister Hedayat Amin-Arsala were abroad while Urban Development Minister Yusuf Pashtun and Mohammed Sediq, Minister for Mines and Industry, were also absent.

Seven weeks after he was officially announced winner of the historic October 9 election, the President appointed a government including two women and many English-speaking technocrats considered his close aides.

His choices are regarded as key to getting the country back on its feet after a quarter century of war and attracting continuing aid from the West.

The parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in April 2005 but are likely to be delayed because of the complex logistics of drawing up district boundaries and reviewing population estimates.