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Afghan anti-corruption body assails nepotism in Foreign Ministry, calling it key in hiring

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KABUL, Afghanistan — An independent Afghan anti-corruption body warned Wednesday that nepotism plays a critical role in getting a job as a diplomat in the country's Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The report by the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee also alleged favoritism and patronage often prevail over merit and ability in diplomatic appointments.

Such practices undermine constitutional guarantees of equality for all Afghan citizens, said the committee's executive director, Ahmad Rashed Behroz.

Afghan officials and others with power prefer to appoint relatives to job openings, Behroz said, adding that 48 candidates passed tests for jobs at the ministry last year, but all were overlooked in favor of people who did not take any test. The report also listed 23 Foreign Ministry employees who are close relatives of current or former lawmakers, ministers or other ministry officials, as well as eight diplomats, including an ambassador, with ties to the top echelons of the administration of former President Hamid Karzai.

"The practice has become a major concern" Behroz said.

Afghanistan is regularly considered by analysts and watchdog groups as one of the world's most corrupt countries.

The report also assailed a 119 police call center Afghan authorities set up in 2007 for citizens to report any indication of corruption or official misconduct they encounter. In theory, the call center must report and follow up the citizen complaints to the country's anti-corruption and anti- bribery directorate.

But in practice, the report declared the enterprise a "complete failure," saying that out of more than 2,000 complaints reported last year, only 907 were investigated. Of those, just nine were referred to the prosecutor's office, but no judicial action ever took place.

Meanwhile Wednesday, an insurgent attack on a checkpoint killed four police officers in northern Baghlan province, while a suicide car bomber killed a soldier in an attack on an army compound in eastern Logar province, authorities said.

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