Published on 24 Jan 2011 at 03:30
Interviewer: Hamidullah Habibi
An interview with Daud Sultanzoi, an unsuccessful candidate from Ghazni, who is protesting the final results of September’s Parliamentary elections.
Will you accept the Special Court’s decision if it approves the final results of the elections and certifies the new Parliament as legitimate?
The evidence the Special Court has access to, as well as the actions of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) prove that last September’s elections were tainted by fraud. The Constitution has been violated and people had been deprived of their voting rights, or their votes have been annulled for no reason during the election process. All of this shows that the elections were not transparent.
The Special Court will not confirm the final results if it considers the evidence that the protesting candidates and eyewitnesses submitted. I am sure that the Special Court will adopt a decision acceptable to all when it adjudicates the complaints.
We will refer the matter to international courts if the Special Court approves the final results of the Parliamentary elections or is pressured to make a wrong decision. If anything like this happens it could have very dangerous consequences.
In an emerging democracy, elections should be held in such a way as to inspire trust among the people. If we fail at this stage and cannot gain people’s trust, then they may be attracted by the opposition. It is clear that the power of the opposition and their attraction for the people is gaining strength by the day.
You know that Iran interfered widely in the last Parliamentary elections. Iran then embargoed Afghan fuel tankers on the Iranian border, not allowing them into Afghanistan. This was done to pressure the Afghan government to inaugurate the new Parliament. It is Iran that wants this Parliament, not the people of Afghanistan.
Considering the economic and security condition in the country, will it be possible to conduct elections again if the Special Court rejects the final results and dissolves the Parliament, particularly if it has already begun its work?
It is not possible to conduct another election given the current situation. Elections are tools with which the people practice exercising their will; the aim is to gain people’s trust through a free, fair and transparent election process. According to the law, the previous Parliament should have continued working until there were certified, transparent results from the September elections. The previous Parliament is legally still in place if the new elections have not been completed.
President Hamid Karzai promised to inaugurate the new Parliament in late January. How do you assess his decision?
It is unreasonable. He has promised to inaugurate Parliament when he has formed a Special Court to adjudicate the final results of the elections. This causes legal conflict. President Karzai cannot be confident in the legitimacy of the new Parliament. Problems will increase in the judiciary branch as well as inside the Cabinet within two months. The entire country, including the president himself, will face many problems.
President Karzai listens to everybody but he ignores all the advice when he makes a decision. I do not know to whom he is listening now, but the proper advice for him is to consider the will of the country and not inaugurate the new Parliament.
Unfortunately, the president’s legal advisers do not have a sound policy. The situation in Afghanistan is getting worse, and the reason for this is bad decisions by the government over the past ten years.
Afghanistan would not have faced the problems it has now if the government had done something good in the past ten years. Corruption, lack of rule of law, and poor governance all are the result of bad decisions by the government. There is still time for the president to listen to good advice and not inaugurate the Parliament. Otherwise, the current crisis will reach a new stage which could tear the country apart.
Can the Special Court decide to extend the working period of the previous Parliament? If so, will you continue working?
We will continue working until there are new elections if the Court rejects the final results of the September elections.
What will happen to Afghanistan’s fledgling democracy if the Special Court rejects the final results?
I think the Afghan people will gain trust in the judiciary if the court rejects the results. Rejecting the final results means strengthening democracy in Afghanistan. In my opinion, these results are not acceptable to the majority of the Afghan people, since they are without representation in the new Parliament.
There are some candidates among the protesters who received fewer than 60 votes in the elections. Don’t you think they want to misuse the protests?
We aim to focus on the transparency of the election process; we are not concerned with who received how many votes. We know that there are some candidates who did not win the election, and this is the reason they want to annul the final results. But there are candidates who succeeded in the elections and received a lot of votes, but their votes have been annulled, stolen or counted in favor of other candidates.
For instance, there are some influential figures from Kabul on the list of winners whose supporters were arrested on polling day for using fake voting cards. Since they had money and power and were supported by powerful individuals, they were released within an hour. No one dares to name them.
You have told the media that the winning candidates in Ghazni cannot represent Pashtuns since they are all from the Hazara ethnic group. In your opinion, how can a Pashtun represent all ethnic groups, but a non-Pashtun cannot? For example: President Hamid Karzai, who is an ethnic Pashtun, represents all ethnic groups of Afghanistan, doesn’t he?
There is a major difference between the President and the Parliament, not only in Afghanistan but all over the world. Our Constitution reflects our society, and according to the Constitution, Afghanistan is made up of Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks and other minority ethnic groups. Each ethnic group or individual has separate rights.
It is also true that each province is allocated seats in the Parliament based on its population. Each district of a province should have a representative in the Parliament to defend the rights of the residents of that district. For instance, 11 seats have been allocated for Ghazni province.
It is a fact that the various ethnic groups have different and sometimes contradictory interests in Afghanistan. It rarely happens that people of one ethnic group vote for a candidate from another group. Each group has its own demands and requirements.
For instance, a Hazara cannot represent the Kochis (nomads) or vice versa. Each ethnic group should have its own representative in the Parliament.
The Directorate of the Parliament has set a five-day training course for the winning candidates, to familiarize them with Parliamentary affairs. Do you consider this a legal action?
Given that the final results of the Parliamentary elections are still under adjudication, such acts are extremely irritating. We should stop fueling the political crisis. In my opinion, such irresponsible actions show the weakness of the Afghan government.
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