Published on 22 Jun 2011 at 10:28
The legislature has delayed their holiday until the tensions over the Cabinet and the Special Court are resolved.
The Afghan Parliament has postponed its summer break for the second time, citing as reasons the executive’s refusal to nominate Cabinet ministers as well as the continuing friction over a Special Tribunal that is looking into election fraud.
The Parliament took a decision on June 5 to delay its scheduled recess, saying that it would delay the break for 15 days to give the executive branch time to nominate new ministers and dissolve the Special Court.
As there has been no reaction by executive branch, the parliament began a sit-in 10 days ago, refusing to undertake any legislative activity and banging on their desks to protest what they see as the government’s protracted violation of the law.
The Parliament, taking these issues into consideration, decided to delay the recess for another 15 days from June 20 to July 5.
“We have repeatedly asked the government to put an end to the illegal presence of acting ministers,” said Mohammad Arif Rahmani, a member of Parliament from Ghazni. “But the government would not listen.”
The Cabinet of Ministers contains seven members who have been in an acting capacity for over a year, in clear violation of the law. The executive branch has repeatedly promised to introduce new candidates for the positions: however, six months after the start of the new Parliament, not a single candidate has been nominated for a vote of confidence by the lawmakers.
Presidential spokesman Siyamak Herawi indicated that the President was still working on the list of Cabinet nominees, and would send it to Parliament as soon as it was ready.
MP Rahmani confirms that the President had promised to introduce nominees for the seven remaining ministry posts next week.
But Farhad Azimi, Second Secretary for the Lower House of the Parliament, pointed out that the President already in May promised to send the names of his Cabinet picks to parliament, but nothing has happened.
MP Rahmani citing vice presidents Marshal Qasim Fahim and Karim Khalili, Rahmani also had said that the Special Court would be annulled.
“In a meeting both vice presidents assured us that the Special Court would be cancelled,” MP Rahmani said.
Since its inception the Special Court, set up by President Hamid Karzai last December to adjudicate issues of fraud in last September’s Parliamentary elections, has been a bone of contention between the president and the Parliament. The MPs insist that the Special Court has no power to rule on electoral issues, since specially instituted bodies such as the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) have already issued their findings, and the Parliament has been seated.
The Special Court has created an untenable working environment for the Parliamentarians for six months now, with rumors circulating that as many as 80 seated Parliamentarians may be disqualified ex post facto.
Sediqullah Haqiq, the head of the Special Court, had previously announced that the Court had completed its analysis of the election results and would release the final decision on June 13. It was later announced that due to “technical problems” the final results would be delayed for an unspecified period.
“The MPs continue to be concerned about the illegal Special Court,” MP Rahmani insisted. “During the next 15 days, we must resolve the issue of the Special Court, and as well as the problem of the acting ministers, then we can leave for recess.”
Now, with Parliament effectively on strike until the new candidates are nominated, both sides are running out of options.
“If the government breaks its promise and does not nominate candidates for the remaining posts, then Parliament, using its legal authority, will summon the current ministers to answer before it,” MP Rahmani said.
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