(KABUL, Afghanistan) — Afghanistan’s goal of achieving long-term stability suffered a major blow on Tuesday when Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak decided to quit after lawmakers gave him a vote of no-confidence last weekend.
In a terse statement to reporters in Kabul, Wardak said, “I respected the parliament’s decision to twice appoint me as defense minister, and now I accept the parliament decision to remove me. I resign my position.”
U.S. and NATO allies were stunned by Wardak’s resignation since he had their full support. However, there has been a spike in violence by the Taliban in recent months, and those within the government felt a change was necessary to improve the country’s security situation.
The recent assassinations of senior officials and cross-border attacks with Pakistan fueled the no-confidence vote, which also included a reprimand of Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi.
Wardak’s resignation came on the same day that a U.S. soldier was killed by two men wearing Afghan soldiers’ uniforms. Both suspects were taken into custody.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Catherine E. Shoichet, Max Blau and Steve Almasy, CNN
Barbara Starr, CNN
Steve Visser and Masoud Popalzai, CNN
Marisa Russell, CNN