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Most MPs skip visit to provinces in winter recess

Most MPs skip visit to provinces in winter recess

Mar 01, 2018 - 17:37

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Pajhwok Afghan News findings show nearly 50 percent of Parliament members did not visit their provinces this winter recess and a majority of them cited security reasons.

Administrative boards of both houses of the parliament direct MPs to visit their relevant provinces and hear their constituents’ problems during winter and summer breaks.

The article 107 of the Constitution says, “The National Assembly shall hold two regular sessions annually. The term of both regular sessions shall be nine months every year, and when needed, the Assembly shall extend its term,”

Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon or lower house of the parliament has 249 seats but 11 of them have fallen vacant after their owners either resigned or died.

Meshrano Jirgainfo-icon or upper house has 102 seats and its 34 remain unfilled due to no conduct of district council elections. Senator Sibghatullah Mujadadi is permanently absent. Currently 67 senators are on their seats at the Meshrano Jirga.

Thirty-five representatives of capital Kabul do not need to travel to other provinces and 11 representatives of Kuchiinfo-icon tribe also don’t need to do so because the whole of Afghanistaninfo-icon is a single constituency for nomads.

Pajhwok findings show 129 of 195 Wolesi Jirga members and 28 of 66 members of Meshrano Jirga did not visit their relevant provinces (electoral districts) during the winter recess.

Some of the parliamentarians say they did not visit their provinces due to security problems.

Shekiba Hashemi, a lawmaker from southern Kandahar province, said: “We do not have the power to task convoy of armored vehicles for our protection. Security threats are increasing with each passing day, no one would care about our security if we go to our provinces, so we chose not to go.”

However, she said she had talked to a number of her constituents about their problems through telephonic contacts and meetings with them in Kabul.

Sayed Mohammad Daud Naseri, a lawmaker from central Daikundi province, said he did not visit his province due to his bad healthinfo-icon condition and security threats, but he added he had the plan to travel to his province by air before the recess ends.

Daikundi is one of stable provinces of the country, but Naseri still complains about security threats. He said security problems were a reason most of parliament members avoided going to their provinces.

Jummadin Gayanwal, who represents Paktika province in Meshrano Jirga, said he did not visit his province due to his illness and security problems during the winter recess. He said he used hear his voters problems mostly through telephone contact.

Abdul Qadir Zazai Watandost, Wolesi Jirga secretary and a representative of Kabul province, said: “Lawmakers should visit their electoral districts during winter and summer recesses and know their problems and share them with the government officials, it is the rule.”

Some representatives visited their provinces, some traveled abroad for their medical treatment, others stayed in Kabul due to security threats at their home provinces, he said, without going into details.

He rejected rumors that say 120 lawmakers travelled to Dubai this winter recess but said the public representatives had the right to use their recess for recreation.

Tayeb Atta, secretary of Meshrano Jirga, who visited his province Kunar during the winter recess, said parliament members must respect the rules and go to their provinces and hear problems of their constituents and share them with the upper house.

But he said that most of the house members did not visit their provinces due to security problems and the government did not provide them with air flight facilities.

Gul Ahmad Madadzai, deputy head of Afghanistan Lawyers Association, said that the law did not force parliament members to travel to their relevant provinces, but they need to go to their electoral districts and listen to problems of their people during recesses.

“It is ethical if a representative visits his/her province and voters during winter and summer recesses, but unfortunately they do not observe rules, because they think the government is unlawful, so they continue their job without any concern,” he said.

About a possible delay in Wolesi Jirga elections, he said people were worried about the fate of elections and they were not sure if the ballots would be held even next year.

Article 83 of the Constitution states: “The constitutionally mandated tenure of the house of people shall terminate after the disclosure of the results of the election, on the 1st of Saratan (22 June), and the new parliament shall commence work.”

Based on this article, Wolesi Jirga elections were due in May 2016, but were delayed and the president announced the lower house current members would continue their duties until fresh elections were held.

The Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) announced July 7 the date for holding the Wolesi Jirga and district council elections.

Three days earlier, the IEC said it was ready to hold elections on schedule but on the condition if the government provided the required budget on time and took security measures.


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