Joint panel to talk out differences on draft laws
KABUL (PAN): A joint parliamentary commission was set up on Monday to reconcile differences between the two chambers on contentious articles of draft laws regarding the structure of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and polls.
The Wolesi Jirga passed the proposed laws that the Senate also approved with several amendments. Under the constitution, a team comprised of members of both houses will have to be appointed to remove their differences.
The commission’s decision is to be signed into law by the president. On May 22, the lower house adopted the electoral law with 16 articles and 82 clauses after a long debate.
On July 1, the Meshrano Jirga approved the new law, deciding the parliament would also endorse any delay in the elections, scheduled for May 2014, in case of case of an unfavourable security environment or natural calamity.
Over the past 11 years, parliamentary elections have been conducted under legislative decrees, but six months back, the IEC prepared an amended draft and handed it to the assembly for approval.
The government had suggested a change in the election date at IEC’s recommendation. The IEC recommendation, based on the government’s suggestion, has to be sanctioned by a committee constituted by the president. But the relevant article was struck down.
But the upper house remained divided on the idea that some Wolesi Jirga seats be reserved for political parties under the draft law. While rejecting the assembly’s view, the Senate reserved 25 percent of provincial and district council seats for women.
In early May, the Wolesi Jirga decided 10 polling zones would be set up for the Kuchis in the next parliamentary elections -- a move that drew criticism from some lawmakers. The Senate, however, reduced the number to seven.
A member of the joint commission, Asadullah Saadati, told Pajhwok Afghan News they would start discussing the mismatch of perceptions between the two houses on the law regarding composition later in the day.
Speaker Abdur Rauf Ibrahimi told the lower house both laws should have been approved by the parliament much earlier.
IEC Chairman Fazal Ahmad Manawi says the time for implementing the election law, even if sanctioned by both chambers, has already lapsed. Due to the delay in parliamentary approval of the draft laws, most poll-related affairs are being handled under a legislative decree.
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