We no longer recognise Kabul mayor: Speaker
Legislators also asked the president and the Attorney-General Office (AGO) to investigate the issue in the interest of the general public and civic services.
Joined by Kabul residents, the MPs have been staging a sit-in since Wednesday on the premises of the Kabul Municipality, seeking removal of Mayor Younas Nawandesh. The municipality’s administration officials have since been on leave.
As their number increased, the protestors accused the mayor of involvement in land grab, corrupt practices and issuing permits for the construction of multistorey buildings in violation of rules, as well as execution of substandard roads.
But Nawandesh, rejecting the allegations, has accused the MPs of trying to blackmail him after he rejected their inordinate demands. However, he did not explain the illegal demands.
A day earlier, a 12-member commission launched investigations into allegations of corruption against the Kabul Mayor and some lawmakers, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) announced.
Mohammad Ishaq Aloko told a press conference in Kabul the protest had brought to a halt all activities of the municipality. He said the AGO had appointed a 12-member team after receiving a dossier from the Presidential Palace to probe the matter.
After a heated debate and testy exchanges, lower house members decided not accept Nawandesh in his current position. MP from Kabul Abdul Qader Zazai said the strikers were willing to respect any decision of the august house.
He said the public representatives were protesting to ensure better civic amenities for Kabul residents and stop the construction of substandard roads and illegal high-rise buildings. He claimed having concrete evidence support the allegations against the mayor.
Zazai offered himself for hanging if the mayor could substantiate his charge that the striking MPs had made inordinate demands on him. “I’m ready to be hanged right here if he proves the accusation.”
He said the municipality gates had been closed by the mayor, not by strikers. The offices had been shifted to the fourth police district, he revealed.
Another striking public representative, Sahib Khan, alleged the mayor had met some lawmakers in an attempt to muster their support. “Gen. Nazifa Zaki is one of them. The mayor has bribed her with a multistorey building in Kabul…”
But Zaki rejected the charge, insisting that her visit to the municipality was aimed at resolving voters’ problems. “I have only one residence in Kabul. That was allotted to my husband during the Dr. Najibullah government.”
Lawmaker from Kandahar province, Abdur Rahim Ayubi, accused Wolesi Jirga Speaker Abdur Rauf Ibrahimi of creating the problem. “You have insulted this august house. And the mayor has slighted all of us…”
His colleague Amir Khan Yar held a similar view, telling Ibrahimi: “You have been fuelling this tension; you are the thief but people are blaming us all. He believed the problem would be resolved if the speaker resigned.
For his part, Ibrahimi denied committing any illegality or having a personal issue with the mayor. He said he always listened patiently to criticism from public representatives. “It is your duty to pinpoint my mistakes.”
He said a delegation had been constituted to convince the protesting Wolesi Jirga members to call off their strike. “But we no longer recognise Nawandesh as Kabul mayor.”
A majority of legislators raised their hands and thumped their desks in support of the speaker’s ruling. They also raised green cards, indicating their agreement with the decision.
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