Published on 22 Apr 2012 at 11:38
In an exclusive interview with www.bamdad.af, Mohammad Naser Hafizi, Political Parties and Social Institutions Coordinator at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) explains that following changes in the Political Parties Law, only 46 out of 110 political parties have reregistered. He says that changes brought to the previous law were designed to encourage countrywide and non-ethnic parties. “The government not only did not prevent political party development, but has tried to develop parties” he says. “It is the political parties’ failure that they do not play a more remarkable role in the country’s political system.”
How many political parties have registered with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) so far?
Based on the previous Political Parties Law (PPL), 110 parties were registered with the MoJ. But all previous parties were dissolved following the approval of the new PPL and parties were asked to reregister in accordance with the new PPL. Following our announcement, 46 political parties have been reregistered so far.
Based on the new PPL (amended 2009), what are the conditions and requirements to establish a political party?
In accordance with the new PPL, every political party should present copies of at least 10,000 national ID cards [of members] from all ethnic groups across the country for registration. It should have at least 22 founders, each from a different province. Based on the previous law, anyone could establish a political party after presenting 700 national ID cards with no consideration to balanced regional or ethnic representation. But now, new parties should be countrywide and should have a notable number of members from different ethnic groups.
In your opinion, do these conditions and requirements help establish countrywide political parties?
Well, we are trying our best to have these types of parties. The most important point is that these parties should work hard to have more members from different ethnic groups from across the country.
Some political party leaders accuse the government of creating barriers towards political party development, the new PPL included. What is your response?
The Afghan Constitution allows all citizens of Afghanistan to establish political parties, social associations and private institutions and the government provides equal rights to all political parties in accordance with the law. Forty six parties have registered in accordance with the new PPL with MoJ. Any Afghan citizen, except for judges, prosecutors, members of the Supreme Court and members of the independent commissions can establish a party if it meets the conditions and requirements of the new PPL.
A majority of the registered political parties look alike. They have similar names and bylaws with few differences. In your opinion, why don’t these parties join together?
Yes, they have many similar bylaws with few differences. They bring or add a word to the same bylaws. But, the parties themselves should decide how to establish stronger political parties.
It is up to the parties to join a coalition and establish a stronger party. Our responsibility [at MoJ] is to provide them with facilities. We appreciate the establishment of stronger political parties and dissolve small parties in order to decrease the number of parties.
How different are the bylaws of the political parties registered with the MoJ?
Well, I am not allowed to comment on political parties’ bylaws or activities. But, as we are responsible to review their bylaws during the registration process, we can rarely differentiate one party from another. A majority of the registered parties have similar bylaws and platforms.
Why don’t we have strong political parties yet in Afghanistan?
In any post-conflict country, there are a huge number of political parties. Different ideas for building the government and political entities result in the creation of many political parties. But, the government treats all parties equally and there is no discrimination against any one political party. It is a time-consuming endeavor for political parties with similar platforms and bylaws to join together and establish a stronger party. But, I believe that with time we will witness stronger political parties emerge.
Political parties blame the government for creating problems and point to our non-party elections system as an example. What is your response?
The country’s decision makers or political parties should decide on a party or non party elections system. But, regarding political party activity over the past decade, the government prevented no party from doing a legal activity. Political activism and freedom of speech is permitted in the country. It is the parties’ failure that they did not develop in the past, not the government’s.
On the other hand, the majority of political party leaders are involved in the current government. Some ministers and other high-ranking officials are party leaders and even members of the National Assembly are from different parties.
For the most part, political parties are recognized based on their region and ethnicity. What should be done to make these parties more representational?
The new PPL has considered this issue. Political parties should have at least 22 founding members, each from different provinces of the country and they should have at least 10,000 members from all ethnic groups across the country. These are our efforts to establish countrywide political parties.
Developing the political parties’ law is the responsibility of the government, and we did our job. The government considers political parties’ advice regarding their activities. Also, it is the parties’ responsibility to try to establish countrywide membership.
Many governments across the globe often provide funds for the development of political parties. What has the Afghan government done so far to strengthen political parties? And what is your future plan?
It is true that political parties are funded to continue their activities and to play a role in establishing a strong and democratic system. Unfortunately, the Afghan government is unable to provide this kind of assistance to political parties. I hope we will have stronger parties with specific plans in the future.
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