Arrest warrant issued against two ministers in Karzai's cabinet

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Kabul, Nov. 22 (ANI): Two ministers in Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's cabinet are facing arrests on theft and fraud charges, as investigators in the country's newly set-up anti-corruption force have gathered sufficient evidence against the two ministers.

Warrants have been signed for the arrest of Sediq Chakari, the minister of hajj and Islamic affairs and another cabinet minister whose name has not been confirmed, Times Online reports.

According to a prosecution source, the warrants were handed to Karzai earlier this month.

Karzai must suspend a minister's immunity before the warrant can be served under Afghan law. Whether he allows his ministers to be prosecuted is being seen as a litmus test by the west.

Karzai, whose second five-year term began last week, has been warned by western backers that widespread corruption, a crooked police force and alliances with drug-dealing war lords.

A police source confirmed that a warrant had been issued against Chakari.

The warrants follow the new force's first arrest earlier this month - of a general accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from government funds, much of it by claiming for fictitious "ghost" staff and pocketing their salaries.

Transparency International, an organisation that tracks corruption worldwide, last week listed Afghanistan as the second most corrupt state in the world, beaten only by Somalia. (ANI)

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