Wolesi Jirga throws out Ghani’s electoral reform decree
Under Article 79 of the Constitution, the president can issue legislative decrees on all issues barring budget and financial matterswhen the parliament is on recess.
But the decrees need to be approved by the parliament within 30 days of returning from vacation. Election reforms are a key point of the agreement on the national unity government.
President Ghani, in July2015, when the National Assembly was on summer recess, issued his first decree on electoral reforms. But the parliament after returning from the break rejected it.
Again in March2016, the president issued a second decree when the parliament had risen for the winter recess. It was placed before the house after being discussed by Wolesi Jirga commissions.
A lawmaker, SharifiBalkhabi, told the session that nine commissions of the parliament had rejected the decree while six other panels suggested its approval after being duly amended.
Some house panels said the decree should be approved to end differences between government leaders on election reforms, pave the ground for Wolesi Jirga elections and win the international community’s trust.
Abdul Qadir Zazai, speaking on behalf of the International Affairs Commission of the house, said the decree should be thrown out. He believed the orders had no legal or constitutional basis.
He referred to Article 79 of the Constitution, which says legislative decrees should be released only in emergency situations. But the decree pertaining to electoral reforms was not issued in such a situation, he argued.
But another legislator, Hafizullah Mansoor, on behalf of Audit Commission of the lower house,called the rejection of the decree clear opposition to democracy.
He said if anyone worries about the president and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) sharing election commission seats, then they could suggest amendments to the decree.
At the end of the session, of the 153 lawmakers present, 126 voted against the decree.Speaker Abdul RaufIbrahimihad delayed on Thursday voting as differences existed regarding the election of election commissionmembers.
Parliamentarian Fawzia Kofi alleged certain lawmakers were trying to prevent the approval of the legislative decree as they were against elections.
Some days ago, civil society activists and political leaders had asked the Wolesi Jirga to approve the decree. They warned the country would face more problems if the decree was rejected.
The parliament’s five-year term ended on June 22, 2015. Under Article 83 of the Constitution, new elections were supposed to take place within 30 or 60 days.
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