Addressing the 4th EU Annual Anti-Corruption Conference in Kabul on Tuesday, President Ashraf Ghani said corruption cases involving two former cabinet ministers, from the previous government, “have been finalized” and that their cases will soon be sent to a special court for them to be prosecuted.
He assured the delegates at the conference that the Afghan government will present results of its anti-corruption activities at the NATO summit in July and at the Geneva conference on Afghanistan in November.
“His excellency the chief justice has just shared with me that the files of two cabinet ministers from the past (government) have just been submitted and a special court will be convened, and four other files are under final review by the Attorney General’s Office and as soon as they are submitted to the supreme court, according to the Constitution, a component of the court, will sit in judgment and render judgment,” he said.
Ghani did not however elaborate on who the two former ministers were nor on who the other four files involved.
He did however say a national conference on corruption will be held in the near future.
According to him, more reforms will be brought to the ministries of interior, finance and other government institutions in order to improve their services and increase the revenue.
He said government wants to increase its revenue to $8 billion USD within the next six months.
“Reform of the Ministry of Interior was critical… Both the border police and the civil police have been completely moved to the ministry of defense. Now unity of command has been established within the ministry of defense,” Ghani said.
He also said the Afghan parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, has not made significant progress in its fight against corruption.
“Parliament has not come up with its own anti-corruption strategy nor has it acted on the requests made by the attorney general to turn over those accused of corruption or aiding corruption. This remains a significant challenge because parliamentary immunity is an issue,” he said.
On a more positive note, Ghani said Afghanistan has opened up trade and transit routes to Central Asia, an achievement that was deemed impossible in 2014.
“Our efforts with Central Asian and other regional partners shows the immense potential of Afghanistan as a (transit) hub and corridor… We are witnessing regional connectivity as a probable reality and a tangible reality within a dream,” Ghani said.
After Ghani’s speech, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John F. Sopko, also addressed delegates and in turn said corruption was one of the main reasons behind the ongoing war. He called for action to be taken against the issue.
Sopko said the government “will rot from inside” and the war will not end if corruption is not fought.
He said fighting corruption should never be a second priority.
The European Union’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Pierre Mayaudon, also addressed the conference and said corruption is a “stab in the back” to the soldier who is fighting on the frontline of the battlefield – the soldier who does not get food, equipment, fuel and weapons because of corruption.
At the same event, Tadamichi Yamamoto, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s (UNAMA) envoy highlighted the UN’s commitment to supporting government and the Afghan people in battling corruption, in order to allow for credible elections and a peace process.
Ghani announced at the conference that 49 percent of the cabinet are below 40 years of age. He said because of this, there is hope for reforms in the country.