President can’t issue new electoral reform decree: MPs
KABUL (Pajhwok): Electoral watchdogs on Thursday welcomed the Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution (ICOIC)’s remarks about a new presidential decree on electoral reforms, but some lawmakers said a new decree couldn’t be issued until the fate of the previous one was decided.
President Ghani had issued two decrees on composition, authorities and duties of the two electoral bodies as part of the electoral reform, a key component of the unity government agreement.
His first and second decrees were rejected by the lower house of parliament or Wolesi Jirga, but the upper house or Senate approved the second decree.
As a result of differences between the two houses of parliament over the decree, a joint commission comprised of equal members from both the houses was established. The joint panel is yet to resolve the issue.
Then the government asked the ICOIC to find a solution to the impasse. The ICOIC on Wednesday declared President Ghani had the mandate to issue a new decree on electoral reforms when the parliament had risen for a recess.
The ICOIC said under article 109 of the Constitution, proposals for amending election law shall not be included in the work agenda of the National Assembly during the last year of the legislative term.
The body observed the working mandate of Wolesi Jirga had ended on June 21 and it was a presidential decree that extended the house term until new elections were held. The holding of elections was also linked to the approval of the decree, it added.
The ICOIC remarks were welcomed by some electoral watchdogs and the Meshrano Jirga’s secretary. Hikmat Safi, a leading member of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), welcoming the ICOIC viewpoint, asked President Ghani to issue and execute another decree on electoral reforms to final bring to an end the election impasse.
Mohammad Naeem Ayoubzada, head of the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA), also welcomed the ICIOC advice.
He said as the previous decree had been rejected and now the National Assembly was on summer break, the president should avail the opportunity and take necessary steps regarding electoral reforms.
He said the government, after holding parliamentary and district council elections, would be able to send the decree to a new parliament.
Upper house secretary Abdullah Qarlaq also voiced support for the ICOIC remarks and said the president could lawfully take decision and determine the fate of the decree.
He said the ICOIC’s consultation had a legal basis and the government by acting on the advice should take necessary steps.
However, Wolesi Jiraga secretary Abdul Rauf Inami told Pajhwok Afghan News why the ICOIC didn’t give such advice earlier.
Inami said the fate of the previous decree was yet to be determined and the president shouldn’t issue another decree.
He said the second decree was rejected by the lower house because it did not land in the house at the specific time and many lawmakers wanted elections to be held and the lower house just wanted some amendments to the measure.
He said the assembly wanted the government to hold elections in line with the Constitution in order the next parliament did not face serious problems.
Mohammad Usman Farahi, a Wolesi Jirga member, held similar views and dubbed the ICOIC as a pro-government body. The MP said the ICOIC advice was what the government had demanded.
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