The Wolesi Jirga should have gone into its summer recess and, by now, come back again. But it delayed the recess, so that MPs could stand against the decision on 26 June by the Special Court to exclude 62 MPs whose legitimacy it questioned. Two of the 62 have appealed to the Special Court’s appeal court. The other 60 have not. Now, the Supreme Court has given a warning that there are just three days left (from the original month) to appeal the Special Court’s decisions. It gave the deadline, not only to those 60 MPs, but also to the dozens of candidates who are still protesting that they have been prevented from taking up seats which they rightfully won in the September 2010 elections. AAN’s researcher Gran Hewad attempts to untangle the latest mess of appeals, courts, protests and game play.
MPs have not had their summer holidays. They cancelled their 45 day recess, in successive 15 day blocks. Now the recess is over. They should have been coming back, refreshed to work on Saturday 23 July. Meanwhile, the Senate did take its holiday. This should not have happened: According to article 107 of the Constitution, the National Assembly – ie both houses – must both extend the sitting, if it is going to be extended. The MPs’ goal behind this ‘illegal’ staying at work was to create barriers for the Special Court (which was created at the suggestion of the Supreme Court and with the approval of the president to investigate cases of alleged electoral fraud in the 2010 parliamentary elections). The Special Court issued a public verdict questioning the legitimacy of 62 MPs and gave them a month to appeal. That deadline is due to expire on 26 July. In reaction to the verdict, a parliamentary coalition, the Support of Law, was created; it includes about 200 MPs and considers the court and its verdict illegal.
It has transpired that two out of those 62 MPs have appealed (*). ‘I have appealed and want to prove that I have clear votes’, stated one of them. The rest of the disputed MPs (ie the 60 out of the original 62) remain committed to their stand of rejecting the special court, its verdict and any appeal. Meanwhile, a special appeal court is collecting applications – both the two out of the 62 and dozens of protesting candidates who feel they should be in the current parliament, but are not (although not all protesting candidates have appealed).
The Supreme Court has now issued (on 24 July) a press statement reminding everyone of the closing date for appeal. It said that whoever (both those with seats which the court thinks they should not have and candidates who think they should have a seat but do not) does not convince the special court to let them appeal before 26 July, will have run out of time. In other words, the court has reminded everyone that there are only two days left. At the same time, the Attorney General has asked the ministry of foreign affairs to stop UNAMA holding secret meeting with anyMPs, saying it was an interference in Afghan domestic affairs.
All and all, this does not represent any real attempt to deal with the crisis, but rather to try to put pressure on the MPs. The impasse between the state plus judiciary on the one side and parliament on the other remains.
After the special court gave the verdict, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) proposed a 6 article resolution to the president, in reaction to which the president established a commission to discuss the IEC proposal. The commission commented on the Special Court’s investigation process and asked the IEC to adjust its results with the findings from the special court, and to send them to the special appeal court for a final decision. It also recommended that the criminal part of the electoral fraud cases also be investigated, an original task of the Special Court which has not been accomplished. This actually sounds like an indirect appeal against the Special Court verdict (see our earlier blog here). Six months have now passed since the court was established, the process has been going on and around and no solution has yet been found.
* Haidar Jan Naimzoi representing Kuchis, plus another MP who until now remains unknown.
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020