Analysts call Karzai remarks on polls illegal
KABUL (PAN): Kabul-based political analysts on Saturday said any change to the timetable for the next presidential election was impossible without constitutional amendments, believing an early pullout of foreign troops could challenge the vote.
Last week, President Karzai said he was mulling over changes either to the 2014 schedule for the presidential vote or the timeline for security transition -- also slated to be completed that year. The proposed amendments are aimed to avert a concurrent change and lighten the burden for his administration.
At a joint press conference with the NATO secretary-general, Karzai said he had been conferring on the issue with his advisers for months: "This question I have had and raised with my aides, if all that can be accomplished in 2014 due to the heavy agenda."
However, he continued, his administration was yet to decide on whether to bring forward the NATO pullout date or the presidential ballot to 2013. "A final decision will be made after the consultations are over," Karzai said, promising such an assessment would be in the supreme national interest.
Under Article 61 of the constitution, Karzai’s five-year term expires on June 20. Elections for a new president are held within 30 to 60 days after the end of the presidential tenure.
Abdul Satar Sauadat, a lawyer and constitutional expert, told Pajhwok Afghan News any change to the presidential polls schedule needed amendments to the Constitution.
Article 150 says to implement proposals regarding any amendment to the Constitution, a commission composed of members of the government, National Assembly and the Supreme Court should be established through a presidential decree to prepare a draft.
For approval of the changes, the Loya Jirga should be called into session through a decree from the sitting president in accordance with relevant provisions. When the jirga approves an amendment with a two-thirds majority, it should be enforced with the president’s endorsement.
The ballot should be held on schedule, he said, calling Karzai’s remarks “illegal and unconstitutional”. The expert linked the vote to the success of the peace process, saying if the effort failed, an early withdrawal of foreign troops would have a negative impact on Afghanistan’s stability.
Law faculty teacher at Kabul University, Jafar Kohistani, described presidential election on time as crucial to a legitimate government system. He said if Karzai wanted an early election, he should bring amendments to the Constitution or step down.
Another law teacher, Wadir Safai, thought an early poll or foreign troops pullout could be a demand of the armed opposition. He said if the president intended to do so, he should keep the national interest supreme.
Former Wolesi Jirga member Kabir Ranjbar believed the withdrawal of foreign troops had no link to the polls. “There is no reason for calling an early election as foreign troops’ cannot affect the ballot; instead their pullout would let us govern the country themselves."
Any delay in the presidential polls vote would be illegal and against the Constitution, he said, adding such ideas could damage the government’s credibility. “If Karzai steps down, the polls can be held within three months. There will be no legal or constitutional problem."
But Sauadat said the president could not resign without any legal problems. Article 67 says:"In case of resignation, impeachment or death of the president, or of a serious illness that could hinder the performance of duties, the first vice president undertakes his duties and authorities."
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.