Monday, 6 March 2017

Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Afghan National Assembly) will be back to work from its winter recess today

Wolesi Jirga will be back to work from its winter recess today 6 March 2017, and will serve yet another “concessionary year”, an extension year granted to the lawmakers by government as a concession after their legitimate five-year term ended last year. Although most Afghans are unsatisfied with its performance, the lower house will continue its work illegally and against the will of the people for yet another year based on a political compromise. Following a long-running controversy surrounding the results of 2014 presidential election, the parliamentary and district council election has hence been delayed under the pretext of electoral reforms. Over the period of last two years and a half, the National Unity Government (NUG) neither reformed the electoral system as expected nor carried out the parliamentary and district council election. The only thing NUG has undertaken under electoral reform is the replacement of former election commissioners, whose legal service term was still not over. By the same token, the National Unity Government even violated a law they had enacted themselves and on the basis of a compromise in the appointment of the secretary of the Independent Election Commission (IEC). Moreover, the government is yet to set a date for the parliamentary and district council election, and the resultant repeated delay has further disappointed the people of Afghanistan, who had already lost their faith in election because of the lingering electoral dispute over vote-rigging, and a subsequent disregard for the people’s will by government leaders. The continuity of the current situation erodes public’s trust in democratic values and peaceful transfer of power, and will have grave consequences not only for people, but also the government. Another problem of the continuity of the Wolesi Jirga’s work in the current form is that the government doesn’t respect its decisions, as necessary. The disqualification of seven cabinet ministers by the lawmakers and the ensuing government disapproval of the motion perfectly exemplified the government’s lack of respect for the National Assembly. After the dismissal of the ministers by Wolesi Jirga, President Ghani remitted the issue to the Supreme Court, thereby disrespecting the decision of the lawmakers who he himself had prerogatively allowed to continue work beyond their legal term. Although questions still remain about the legitimacy of the government, there is an urgent need for the parliamentary election to take place to bring a relative improvement in the situation. If new people find way to Wolesi Jirga through a transparent voting, they will be more effective than the setting parliamentarians in terms of legislation and oversight of government performance.

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