Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Political Landscape

AAN Election Blog No. 7: Parliament’s closed doors and wedding discussions

Martine van Bijlert 2 min

It’s already a while ago that the Parliament closed its doors (after it turned out that most MPs were too busy campaigning to come anywhere near a quorum). A quick look at the subjects they discussed during that first day of convening (25 July 2009) – just after they came back from recess and before they decided to devote themselves to electioneering and with elections looming large – is quite insightful.

First of all the wolesi jirga – the 70 or so MPs who were present – discussed the plans for the coming weeks. Of the 20 draft laws that the executive had suggested be prioritized, five had already been passed by the house but rejected by the president, six had been submitted to the upper house, 4 had been referred to the (non-existing) oversight commission for the interpretation of the constitution, and two were already under debate in the upper house, leaving only the draft law on equal business opportunities, the draft law on medals and honours, and the draft law on fire arms for immediate discussion. You can’t really blame them for turning to other, more pressing matters.

Which included a decision that, as Afghanistan was going through the whole trouble of organising an election anyway, it might as well have municipal elections on 20 August as well (the matter was obviously dropped); a discussion on the problem of civilian casualties (which included a report by an MP that his house had been shot at only days before, killing two and injuring eleven) and a call to disclose the names of the informers providing the coalition forces with false reports; a complaint about a female kuchi MP allegedly being involved in land grabbing; and the recurring complaint about how difficult it is to get proper appointments with ministers. An earlier decision that the ministers should come to parliament twice a week to meet the MPs had been watered down (the ministers agreed to come once a week, although probably did not plan to do so at all), but because the executive was on its way out anyway, the parliament decided not to make a fuss.

That somehow puts it in a nutshell.

But it is not only election season, it is also wedding season – a rush to get the job done before Ramadan sets in. It had been a while and I had more or less forgotten about this world of brightly decorated dresses and porcelain faces, the sitting around and waiting for something to happen. At one wedding there were female judges and their relatives, but at the other one I was I sat next to girls whose conversation mainly consisted of their hair and make-up and whether their dresses looked alright.

Our worlds briefly touched when they launched into a discussion about which presidential candidate they would like to share a campaign poster with. Abdullah was the winner (although deceased president Najib also got a vote) and they teased each other: you can be on the poster with Ahmadzai (Ashraf Ghani); no you should be next to Bashardust. One of them was trying to think of the candidate that would make her look skinnier in comparison, but couldn’t remember his name. Who says there is no interest in the elections.

Tags:

Elections Government Democratization

Authors:

Martine van Bijlert

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