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Parliament, president on warpath

Parliament, president on warpath

Aug 10, 2011 - 17:06

KABULinfo-icon(PANinfo-icon): A number of Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon members on Wednesday opposed a presidential order for the implementation of a special court verdict and said no one had the authority to alter results from last year's parliamentary election.

Earlier in the day, President Karzai ordered the Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) to enforce the special tribunal's verdict. Karzai had told legislators he would take steps to resolve all issues in the supreme national interest and would not let the country slip into crisis.

The five-judge court, set up in late December 2010 by the Supreme Court following a series of protests by unsuccessful candidates to investigate alleged fraud and irregularities in the Sept. 18 ballot, announced its judgment on June 23, 2011.

It ruled 62 of the 249 sitting parliamentarians were not entitled to retain their seats, based on the result of a vote recount ordered under Article 22 of the Electoral Law.

The three-article decree was issued by the Presidential Palace following an appellant court's verdict numbered 22 and dated August 4, 2011. IEC was directed to determine the legality of the verdict as soon as possible under Articles 33, 86 and 156 of the Constitution, Articles 62, 63 and 64 of the Electoral Law.

A public representative from central Daikundi province, Asadullah Sadati, told the house he along with 11 others lawmakers had a meeting with the Independent Election Commission chief, Fazl Ahmad Manawi, on Tuesday night. He said Manawi told them that Karzai had directed him to enforce the tribunal's verdict as soon as possible.

Second deputy secretary, Ahmad Behzad, who also attended the overnight meeting with Manawi, said that Karzai had warned election officials either to enforce his order or be ready to go to jail.  He quoted Manawi as saying the election results needed no change.

Head of Coalition for the Support of Law, Haji Zahir Qadir, said the Presidency could not make changes to the final results. "King Karzai should be ready to face more laws that MPs are working on. He should not take all decisions unilaterally," Qadir added.

The coalition, which has 137 members, warned of staging a sit-in in the national assembly lawn until Karzai either accepted the rule of law or stood down. Qadir said the protest would not be confined to the house; it would eventually grow into a countrywide movement.

"If we take any positive or negative steps, the king (Karzai) and his government will be held responsible for consequences," he warned.

Mohammad Yunus Qanuni, former Wolesi Jirga speaker, cautioned: "Any changes to election results can throw the country into a deep political crisis." He claimed advisors had suggested Karzai to stand for a third term.

He believed Karzai's efforts to implement the court's verdict were aimed at paving the way for his election for a third term. Qanuni said they should not debate an issue other than the current political situation until the fate of Parliament was known.

But Deputy Speaker Khalid Pakhtun, who presided over the session, said the house had not been informed formally about Karzai's decree.

Meanwhile, the lower house called for the creation of a special commission to decide the fate of the Supreme Court chief justice and five other justices, who had been fired by MPs through a vote of no-confidence.

Lawmakers at that time said the five judges had been fired for their role in creation of the special election tribunal that conducted a vote recount and announced that 62 of the sitting MPs should vacate their seats.


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