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MPs reject Ghani’s decree on public protests, strikes

MPs reject Ghani’s decree on public protests, strikes

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Jan 15, 2018 - 19:22

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon or lower house of Parliament on Monday rejected a presidential legislative decree on protest gatherings and strikes calling it against the law.

Fawzia Kofi, who heads the lower house panel on human and womeninfo-icon’s rights, dubbed the presidential decree as against the Constitution during today’s session. She argued the president could not issue a decree on issues about which laws already existed.

The lawmaker asked President Ashraf Ghani to come up with proposals about changes in the law on public protest instead of issuing legislative decrees.

She said the law governing public gatherings, strikes and demonstrations had been approved by the National Assembly in 2008 and endorsed by the then president.

The law says: “The citizens of Afghanistaninfo-icon, in order to pursue their legal and peaceful goals which don’t contradict the national solidarity and the provisions of the Constitution, without carrying weapons and in accordance with this law, have the right to organize gatherings, strikes and demonstrations.”

However, Kofi said the new draft sent by the Presidential Palace withheld free public expression and individual freedoms and its provisions were in conflict with the Constitution.

She continued the decree was also against democracy and if approved people’s right to protesting and striking would be denied.

This comes as a number of civil societyinfo-icon institutes have earlier termed the presidential decree as against the spirit of the Constitution, asking the National Assembly to reject it.

Based on reports, the new presidential decree authorizes police to prevent protests under any circumstances even with weak justifications and logic.

Kofi said the draft law in six chapters and 32 articles had beern assessed and discussed in joint meetings of the Wolesi Jirga panels. “Of all the commissions, only one favored the presidential suggested amendments and eight commissions rejected the decree. Seven other panels stayed neutral .”

However, Humaira Ayoubi, a member of the Wolesi Jirga commission on educationinfo-icon and higher education, about the decree said: “Politicians and political parties misuse the protests and gatherings on the name of democracy. So this decree should be approved.”

She called for further discussion on the topic and asked the administrative board to include the issue in the house agenda in next session.

However, Wolesi Jirga speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said there was no need to further discuss the decree, which he said had been discussed in many meetings.

Ibrahimi asked lawmakers to vote on the issue and of 121 MPs present, 66 rejected the decree, which will be now forwarded to the upper house or Meshrano Jirgainfo-icon for a decision.

sns/ma

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