No cooperation with lower house until polls: Senate
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Senate on Tuesday slammed the newly-established Electoral Reform Commission as “illegitimate”, refusing to cooperate with the lower house until a parliamentary election date was specified.
Electoral reforms are a major part of the unity government deal brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry between then presidential election candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah after last year’s disputed ballot.
About four months back, lawmaker Shukria Barakzai was appointed by President Ghani to head the electoral reform panel but the CEO did not approve her appointment. On the eve of Eid, Ghani through a decree established the commission and appointed its members.
Shah Sultan Akefi is the panel's head, Sediqullah Tawhidi his deputy, Kawoon Kakar, Mohammad Ali Amiri, Abdul Qadeer Karyab, Bashir Farooq, Asadullah Sadati, Faizullah Zaki, Saleh Mohammad Regestani, Shah Mahmood Mia Khail, Sabrina Saqeb, Dr. Alema, Abdul Majid Ghanizada and Tadamichi Yamamoto are members.
Some Meshrano Jirga members said the unity government had no intention to conduct the parliamentary elections, which were constitutionally due on June 22. They refused to cooperate with the Wolesi Jirga until the government set a date for the elections.
Chairman Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said: “We had earlier decided if the election date is not specified (as of today), we won’t cooperate with the Wolesi Jirga.”
He said the establishment of the Electoral Reform Commission was illegal. “Through the media I heard that one of our brothers, the deputy secretary of the Meshrano Jirga, has been appointed as head of the commission. Anyone who comes illegally would be called illegitimate.”
Senator Maulvi Muhiuddin Munsif said the unity government leaders had been wasting time in bringing reforms. Other senators urged the government to specify a date for the next parliamentary elections.
Election watchdogs have welcomed the creation of the commission, but they are skeptical about necessary reforms. They say the commission is not independent and lacks technical expertise and most of its members are associated with President Ghani and CEO Abdullah.
Javed Faisal, CEO’s deputy spokesman, said both leaders of the unity government had complete agreement over the panel’s composition. He admitted the panel comprised representatives of the both leaders but said it also represented civil society and the UN.
Asadullah Sadati, a member of the reform commission, promised the panel would work independently and impartially. He said the commission would start its work this week.
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