Published on 24 Aug 2011 at 09:55
IEC’s latest decision is supposed to put an end to a long-simmering political crisis in Afghanistan that has pitted the legislature against the executive branch, and effectively paralyzed the Parliament for the past eight months. But many observers feel that this latest decision will merely launch a new round of infighting and recrimination.
The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) announced its decision on Sunday, August 21, that nine members of Parliament would be removed and replaced.
The decision came after President Hamid Karzai decreed two weeks ago that the IEC had the final authority to ruling on the results of the 2010 Parliamentary Elections.
The rule is supposed to put an end to a long-simmering political crisis that has pitted the legislature against the executive branch, and effectively paralyzed the Parliament for the past eight months. But instead of calming the troubled waters, many observers feel that this latest decision will merely launch a new round of infighting and recrimination.
According to the IEC’s ruling, which has more the nature of a political compromise, nine members of Parliament will be removed. They will be replaced with candidates who had previously been disqualified for electoral iregularities.
According to the IEC ruling, the changes are:
1. Haji Abdul Qadir of Paktia Province will be replaced with Mahmud Sulimankhail
2. Abdul Wali Niazi of Badakhshan Province will be replaced with Abdul Rauof
3. Zahir Ghanizada of Baghlan Province will be replaced with Aashiqullah Wafa
4. Tahir Zuhir of Samangan will be replaced with Ahamd Khan Samangani
5. Shaker Kargar of Faryab will be replaced with Mohammad Pahlawan
6. Semin Barakzai of Herat will be replaced with Rahima Jami
7. Rafiq Shahir of Herat will be replaced with Mahmud Nesar Ahamd Ghuryani
8. Massoud Khan Merzayi of Helmand will be replaced with Muallim Merwali
9. Habibullah Andiwall of Zabul will be replaced with Hamidullah Tokhi
“This decision is final and will not be reviewed again,” said IEC Chairman Fazil Ahmad Manawi, announcing the results at a press conference Sunday.
Two of those now disqualified, Rafiq Shahir from Herat and Tahir Zuhir from Samangan, are members of a committee recently formed within the Parliament, the Coalition for the Support of the Rule of Law. They are both adamantly opposed to the IEC ruling, and the Coalition, which comprises some 150 deputies from the 249-member body, have vowed to resist any change in the composition of the legislature.
Rafiq Shahir, from Herat, has had a key role in coordinating a group of MPs who discussed bringing Karzai to justice for “national treason.” Based on article 69of the Constitution, if one- third of the MPs propose impeachment and two thirds of the MPs approve, the president can be removed.
Ahmad Nesar Ghuryani, who is slated to replace Shahir, is associated with Ismail Khan, the former powerful governor of Herat, and currently the acting Minister of Energy and Water.
Mohammad Tahir Zuhir of Samangan, a member of the Coalition for the Support of the Rule of Law, would cede his chair to Ahmad Khan Samangani, a powerful commander in the North. Samangani was a member of Junbish-e-Milli, a faction under longtime commander General Abdul Rashid Dostum.
Zuhir had a leading role in summoning five members of the Supreme Court to answer before Parliament; about the court’s role on the dispute. The five members, including the chairman, received a vote of no confidence from the Parliament, as did Attorney General Mohammad Ishaq Aloko.
In Zabul, Habibullah Andiwal would be replaced by Hamidullah Tokhi, a commander of Jamiat-e-Islami, a faction headed by former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, a close ally of President Karzai.
The remaining candidates are less prominent.
The Parliament has been up in arms for months ever since Karzai, acting on a request from the Supreme Court, instituted a Special Court to adjudicate cases of electoral fraud in the parliamentary elections, which took place last September. The Parliament, along with many international bodies, deemed the Special Court illegal, since the IEC and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) had already ruled. According to the law, the electoral bodies are the final arbiters of election-related issues.
The past eight months have seen dramatic confrontations: the Attorney General opened criminal investigations into several members of the electoral bodies; Parliamentarians staged protests; when the Special Court announced on June 23 that 62 MPs would be disqualified, the situation seemed on the point of explosion. Parliament has cancelled its summer recess and has been engaged in resisting the executive branch for months. In the meantime, very little legislating is being done.
On August 17, the Parliament warned that no institution, including the IEC, could change the current composition of the body. In addition to this, the Coalition for the Support of the Rule of Law also cautioned that any adjustments in the Parliament would be against the Constitution and therefore unacceptable.
The IEC itself had announced several times that changing the results that were announced by the electoral bodies last fall was impossible. Manawi had called any idea of changing the results “dreams, impossible and insane.”
But more recently, Manawi confessed that he out of national interests had to change. He denied that he had been pressured by anyone, including the Presidential Palace, but many feel that the latest decision was a compromise worked out between the executive and the legislature.
But it is far from clear whether the compromise will hold. Rather than put an end to the crisis, there is every indication that this new decision will simply add fuel to the political fire.
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