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Wolesi Jirga new term inaugrated

The Hasty Inauguration of Wolesi Jirga

President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the 17th term of the Afghan Parliament – the Wolesi Jirga – last week at a time when the final results of five provinces, including Kabul, have not been announced. As per the constitutional requirements, the parliament should have been inaugurated last year in March, but it was delayed due to controversies that dominated the October parliamentary elections.
There are concerns regarding the inauguration of the parliament as some constituencies including Kabul await final results, and they make up more than one-fifth of lower house of the parliament. Some of the political pundits and constitutional experts opine that inauguration of parliament by President Ghani without the completion of final results is against the constitution, and some of these concerns are well-founded.
Initially it appeared that the government did not have a program for inaugurating the parliament, but now the government’s plan changed and it decided to open the parliament despite the shortage of members. One of the reasons for the opening of the parliament is that new members of the parliament can now participate in the Consultative Loya Jirga. The jirga that has been banned by many parties and political movements has been banned by the majority of the presidential candidates and even by Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Unity Government (NUG).
Considering the fact that several days prior to inauguration of parliament, the Supreme Court announced its decision to confirm the extension of Ashraf Ghani as president after the end of his tenure in May. And, President Ghani is most likely to raise the issue of his stay in power in the Loya Jirga. On the same basis, the government has closed the gates of the previous parliament and, in a hurry, inaugurated the new parliament. This could mean overlooking the new parliamentary representatives. It was previously said that the parliament would be inaugurated after the Loya Jirga, but most likely, Ghani’s aides have advised him to use the presence of new parliamentary representatives in the Loya Jirga as a factor to legitimize the jirga.
The newly-arrived parliamentary representatives did not have enough time to carry out the internal administrative arrangements of the parliament within two to three days, and the so-called parliamentary positions were not well-aware of the macro policies of the government, especially in the case of the jirga, it was not able to function as a unit. And, as they enter Loya Jirga, they will be no more than uninvited guests, whose only presence is only symbolic.
The new parliament, which, on the one hand, faces a shortage of members and, on the other hand, still struggles regarding his structure and functions, cannot stand as a single voice against unilateral plans of the president. Failure to administer the parliament properly, will give the president the opportunity to challenge it and utilize it as per its political objectives.
It must not be forgotten at this instance that the government is opening the new parliament with a controversy between former parliamentary representatives and new ones. There had been a dispute over the last few days between the two groups about who should join the Loya Jirga as parliamentary representatives. Both groups claimed to be representatives of the people in parliament and could force their presence at the Loya Jirga. However, the government tried to tackle this issue with the opening of the new parliament.
Secondly, the foreigners, especially the Americans, have been pushing the ruling elite not to ignore the elected and elected institutions. This could be linked to the concerns of foreigners linked to President Ghani’s recent behavior. The announcement of the prolongation of Ghani’s tenure by the Supreme Court has raised concerns with the international supporters of Afghanistan. They have been thinking that if Ghani is not under pressure, he may take other unpredictable measures to keep things out of control. The US Secretary of State’s phone call with President Ghani is also linked to these issues. At the same time, as the Supreme Court announced that President Ghani’s work had been extended, there were speculation in the media about Ghani may give a decree to cancel the position of CEO. Although the official sources did not endorse it, but it seems likely that President Ghani may go for such an adventure.
In short, all the indications are there that Ashraf Ghani intends to stay in power and will use any means to consolidate his position. He is holding the Loya Jirga despite all the opposition. The Supreme Court has also authorized his stay in the Presidential Palace, and he thinks that the obstacles are being taken out of his way and he can remain in power for at least another five years. Nevertheless, the growing discontent among prominent political leaders and their supporters in the country shows the sign of developing controversies. These controversies have the tendencies to turn to serious clashes if not handled properly. International community, particularly, United States should not forget that it can never allow the illegitimate extension of power of the presidency through political maneuvering; otherwise, the doors to political instability may remain open and the dreams of peace and tranquility will only remain a dream.
(Sahar News)

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