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MPs want parliamentary polls soon

Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: As the term of the Lower House of Parliament—the Wolesi Jirga—nears to an end, lawmakers on Saturday called on the government and the electoral bodies to announce exact date of parliamentary polls in near future.

Most of MPs came up with the same viewpoint about their presence until their predecessors are elected. They said they will remain representatives of people in the Wolesi Jirga until the parliamentary polls elect new MPs.

“Lawmakers have the right to monitor and oversee activities of the government after June 22nd—the scheduled date for parliamentary polls, according to the Constitution, if the election was not held,” said Shukriya Barikzai, an MP from Kabul.

She said delay in parliamentary or presidential polls is a normal process, but the government should bear in mind that the Wolesi Jirga is the only source which can approve budget for ministries and give vote of confidence for nominee-ministers.

Barikzai prodded the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to announce the exact date of parliamentary polls as soon as possible.

Obaidullah Barikzai, member of Internal Security Committee of the house, criticized the National Unity Government leaders, and said it is the third time that they are not agreeing for formation of electoral reforms commission. “The electoral reforms commission should be held soon in a bid to hold transparent parliamentary and district councils elections,” he urged.

Coming up with the same suggestions, MP Ramazan Bashardost said continuation of MPs’ activities after June 22 is illegal therefore a petition paper should be signed by 50 lawmakers to stop work after the date and pressurize the government leaders to announce the polls’ time as soon as possible.

Recalling his previous remarks, Bashardost said the President and the Chief Executive should be summoned in the house, based on article 69 of the Constitution, if they failed to unveil their decision about parliamentary polls.

Another MP and former Minister of Agriculture during Karzai’s tenure, Obaidullah Ramin, said no one has the right to decide about the fate of the Wolesi Jirga and the lawmakers. “The government should announce the polls’ date within one week,” he added.

Last week, a number of lawmakers suggested the Supreme Court and the President to legalize continuation of their activities after June 22 by issuing a decree.

Abdul Wudud Paiman, an MP from Kunduz, said the Constitution allows the lawmakers to continue their works until their predecessors are elected.

The Wolesi Jirga Speaker, Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, said their presence after June 22 is against the law therefore the President and the Chief Executive should announce the parliamentary polls’ date in near future. He suggested that the electoral bodies’ officials should be summoned to brief MPs about the polls.

A month back, the IEC chief told lawmakers that the commission is faced with lack of budget to hold the parliamentary polls as international donors have stopped funding the electoral bodies. The IEC chairman also said that tens of technical staffers of the commission have left their jobs due to lack of budget.

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