Reform panel wants 100 parliament seats given to parties
KABUL (Pajhwok): Two members of the Electoral Reform Commission on Saturday announced boycotting the panel’s meetings over what they said their other colleagues wanted to allocate 100 of the Wolesi Jirga’s 249 seats to political groups.
The two --- Kawon Kakar and Shah Mehmood Miakhel --- feared political groups with enough resources and gunmen would be able to grab the seats.
Miakhel said: “Most members of our commission are associated with specific groups and are enthusiastic to hurriedly take a decision that serves the interest of these groups by taking advantage of summer vacations of the parliament.”
The two thanked the unity government for showing trust in them by appointing them as members of the Electoral Reform Commission to protect the national interests.
“During the past five weeks, which is too much little time for the huge responsibility, we held gatherings and made trips to provinces for the sake of reforms in the electoral system and presenting the government a comprehensive reform strategy that is practicable in the face of ground realities and challenges,” they said.
Miakhel said they wanted a strategy that was acceptable to the majority of people and did not hurt a particular tribe or group.
The two Electoral Reform Commission members also handed over a copy of their suggestions and demands to media persons.
They said as part of their job they held talks with people from various walks of life at centres of major provinces and also consulted national and international groups who had experience in elections.
They said people’s trust in elections and the electoral regime had eroded and reforms which could restore their trust should be introduced.
They said people in provinces wanted electoral constituencies to be made smaller and Afghanistan be divided into 250 constituencies in line with the Constitution in order every constituency has a member in the parliament.
These demands were common in Nangarhar, Paktia, Kabul, Ghazni, Kandahar, Herat and Kunduz provinces, the two Electoral Reform Commission members said in their copy of suggestions and people’s demands.
They also quoted people as demanding a halt to the use of fake voter cards and prevention of fraud during elections.
Their proposals say the current electoral system technically called “single non-transferable vote or SNTV” should be reviewed because the contact between people and their representatives has been weak in the system.
They said most of the people in the zones demanded cut in election costs both for the government and candidates and called for a strategy in this regard.
In order to reach these goals, Kakar and Miakhel said they had worked on the electoral law and the composition, authority and duties of the electoral bodies and fully supported notions aimed at strengthening the independence of the election commission and preventing irregularities and electoral fraud.
“But there were sharp differences and disagreements over an electoral system which is enforceable under the current Afghanistan’s situation that it should inclusive, direct and fair for the people across the country.”
They said they had been insisting that national political parties should be gradually and naturally empowered not by giving them privileges because groups with resources and gunmen did not offer themselves for accountability.
They said political groups did not abide by democratic principles and everything was being controlled by their leaders and their aides while their sources of income remained unknown.
The two warned if the unity government accepted decisions of the Electoral Reform Commission, the move would serve a huge blow to the democratic process and would threaten the country’s stability.
However, deputy head of the commission, Sediqullah Tawhidi, told Pajhwok Afghan News they would present before the government recommendations which had been prepared in consultations with people.
He said these recommendations would be presented to Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah on Saturday afternoon and the CEO would forward them to the president.
However, he did not explain the proposals. But Kawon Kakar and Miakhel said the Electoral Reform Commission wanted to replace the SNTV system with Parallel Proportion System in order to give political parties 100 or 40 percent parliament seats.
Another proposal is that Afghanistan should be one constituency for political parties. In such a system, two kinds of list are prepared one called open and the second closed lists.
If the lists are open and 100 seats are given to political parties and if the parties are 50 then the number of their candidates will reach 5,000 and the voter lists will be composed in a book shape.
Kakar and Miakhel said if the closed lists were endorsed, political groups would appoint their preferred individuals.
They said seats of permanent candidates should also be divided among constituencies and the constituency system for Kuchi tribesman should remain the same. Only those parties can win these seats who obtain four in 100 percent votes across Afghanistan.
They said political groups could directly field their candidates and could form majority in parliament.
Click here for complete proposals of the two Electoral Reform Commission members.
Electoral reforms are a major part of the national unity government agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah.
The commission created in compliance with a presidential decree embarked on its job about five weeks ago.
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