Govt urged to set date for parliamentary polls
KABUL (Pajhwok): Some lawmakers, civil society activists and election observers on Thursday urged the government to make functional the newly-created electoral reforms commission and announce a date for next parliamentary polls.
Electoral reforms are also a major part of the power-sharing agreement between then presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah after last year’s disputed presidential election.
After taking office, President Ghani issued a decree creating an electoral reforms commission, but three months on since the decree was issued, the panel is yet to officially start working.
Under Article 83 of the Constitution, members of the Woelsi Irga are elected by the people through free, general, secret, and direct elections and their mandate ends on the 1st of Saratan of the fifth year after the elections, and the new assembly starts its work.
The article adds the election of the Wolesi Jirga members shall be held within 30 to 60 days before the expiry of the term of the House of Representatives.
But the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has said the parliamentary elections could not be conducted due to financial problems.
A Wolesi Jirga member from Kabul, Abdul Qadir Zazi, told a gathering “Delay in Elections and Wolesi Jirga Future” that they strongly urged the IEC the country and the government should not plunge into a new crisis.
He said the election commission should be brave in quickly announcing a date for the parliamentary elections and should not think about budget, which he said was the responsibility of the government to arrange.
The lawmaker also urged the president and the chief executive officer to form the electoral reforms commission as soon as possible as he feared Afghanistan could move towards a new turmoil.
Zazi also suggested the government should extend the incumbent Wolesi Jirga’s mandate until the parliamentary elections were held. He said the mandate should be extended in understanding with the Supreme Court and in light of the Constitution.
“The date for parliamentary polls is unknown, a few days are left in the expiry of the Wolesi Jirga term, insecurity has increased and the IEC is not a clean body, so this is an emergency situation.”
Article 143 of the Constitution says “if due to war, threat of war, serious rebellion, natural disasters, or situations similar to these protecting the independence or nation's survival becomes impossible, the president in confirmation of National Assembly shall declare a state of emergency in some or all parts of the country.
It adds if the state of emergency continues for more than two months, the agreement of National Assembly is required for its extension.
Another Wolesi Jirga member Shakiba Hashmi told the gathering: “According to the Constitution, the parliament term expires in mid-June and after that if we continue as lawmakers it will be illegal. We don’t want to work like acting officials who currently run the government’s affairs and none of them is sincere with their job.”
She said after the expiry of the parliament tenure, lawmakers would have no legal right to monitor government activities or approve new laws. “Right now we can see illegal acts of the government. What will happen after the expiry of lawmakers’ term?”
Hashmi said the government should honour pledges it had made with the people and should fix a date for the parliamentary polls as soon as possible and find funds for the polls.
The lawmaker said the Wolesi Jirga would debate the issue and she wanted the president to arrive at the assembly and explain his position on the elections.
Fair and Free Election Foundation of Afghanistan chief Mohammad Yousaf Rashid told the gathering that the electoral reforms commission should be formed soon and measures should be taken to hold the parliamentary elections on schedule.
While stressing early electoral reforms, he said the government was committing negligence in holding the parliamentary polls and bringing electoral reforms.
Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan head Naeem Ayubaza asked Wolesi Jirga members to summon the government officials concerned and put pressure on them to announce a date for the parliamentary polls. He also urged the president to extend the mandate of the parliament in consultation with the departments concerned.
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