President inaugurates Parliament after winter break
KABUL (Pajhwok): After one and a half months winter break, President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday inaugurated the Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament, entering its sixth constitutional year of 16th legislative term.
President Ghani extended the parliament's mandate in June last year through a decree until the parliamentary election could be held.
Parliament’s five-year term was set to expire on June 22, but elections scheduled for April were postponed because of security fears and disagreement on how to ensure a fair vote.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, second vice-president Sarwar Danish, former president Hamid Karzai, deputy High Peace Council (HPC) chief Karim Khalili and a number of other officials attended the parliament’s inauguration ceremony at the parliament house.
Under Article 107 of the Constitution, the National Assembly shall hold two regular sessions annually. The term of both regular sessions shall be nine months, and when needed, the Assembly shall extend its term. Extraordinary sessions during recess shall be convened by Presidential order.
Electoral reform is a major part of the unity government agreement between the president and the CEO.
President Ghani had earlier issued a decree approving seven of 10 suggestions of the Electoral Reform Commission, but the parliament rejected his decree.
However, Ghani had consulted lawmakers over issuing a second legislative decree on electoral reform after his first decree in this regard was rejected by the lower house.
The proposals earlier decreed include registration of voters, making the election bodies accountable and the presence of two foreigners on the Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC).
Also, the reform panel had suggested the reservation of one Wolesi Jirga seat for the Hindu minority and identification and shrinking of constituencies.
Other proposals are distribution of computerised identity cards, 25 percent representation for womeninfo-icon on provincial and district councils and invalidation of the current voter cards.
The government hopes the yet to be issued second decree on electoral reform would be approved by the lower house.
The article 79 of the constitution says “During parliament recess, the government shall, in case of an immediate need, issue legislative decrees. Legislative decrees, after endorsement by the president, shall acquire the parliament approval.”
The article adds the legislative decrees shall be presented to parliament within 30 days of convening of its first session. If rejected by the parliament, they become void.
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