Afghanistan's parliament votes to remove the foreign minister

May 13, 2007|By New York Times News Service

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan's foreign minister, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, lost a no-confidence vote in parliament yesterday after he was unable to stop the expulsion of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees and illegal workers from Iran in the past three weeks.

Spanta was blamed for failing to find a diplomatic solution with Iran that would have prevented the expulsions. He won only 73 votes, while 141 legislators voted against him.

Iran has expelled thousands of Afghans before. But the number it expelled this time, more than 50,000, was high for such a short period.

The minister for refugee affairs, Akbar Akbar, also lost a vote of confidence last week over the issue.

Parliament has the authority to approve ministers and has the power to remove them through no-confidence votes.

President Hamid Karzai, while praising Akbar for his efforts in trying to address the situation, accepted the parliament's vote for his dismissal.

But he said he was referring the foreign minister's case to the Supreme Court for clarification because refugees were not his direct concern, and because there had been a dispute over the voting, according to a statement from his office. The foreign minister will continue his duties until the Supreme Court gives its advice, the statement said.

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