This Thursday, when President Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of 10,000 US troops by the end of the year and of 23,000 more by September 2012, Afghanistan actually was preoccupied with things domestic. The saga of the parliamentary elections of September 2010 saw a new chapter opened, and it is far from clear whether we are getting closer to end of this never-ending political soap opera. Thomas Ruttig and Gran Hewad summarise the events of the day and look at some implications.
In Thursday’s event no. 1, the controversial Special Electoral Court, set up by President Karzai to look into further allegations of fraud during the September 2010 parliamentary elections and declared illegal by the Wolesi Jirga (WJ), in its composition as certified by the Independent Election Commission (IEC), presented its findings at a press conference broadcast live on Afghan TV. If it gets its will, the results for one quarter of the 249 WJ seats will be altered.
The Court announced the numbers of votes of those candidates it had investigated in a recount and found fraudulent. Then it announced the names of the candidates that, according to its findings, would make it into the WJ now: 62 from 27 out of 35 electoral constituencies (the 34 provinces and the Kuchis*). That would mean that 62 so far unsuccessful candidates who had vigorously protested and lobbied for their cases over the past eight months (since the IEC’s announcement of what then was supposed to be the final elections results) would become election winners, while 62 others sitting in the WJ so far are supposed to drop our, Consequently, some of the latter announced that they would start protesting now.**
Many observers were waiting particularly for the verdict on Ghazni province where all seats had been taken by Hazara candidates according to the final result announced last year by the IEC. That had led to frustration amongst Pashtuns and President Karzai in particular (for more background read anearlier AAN blog here). Here, four male Pashtun candidates are to replace four Hazaras. Other drastic changes proposed by the court are:
– all MPs (male and female) will be changed for Zabul and Badghis;
– Herat gets five new male MPs (of 12) and one new female, Kandahar and Kabul four new male MPs (out of 8 resp. 24) ;
– in Samangan, only one of three male candidates survives;
– Laghman changes one male and one female MP (out of 3/1), Farah two of its four male MPs, Nuristan its single male representative;
On the first glance it looks as if the Special Court’s conclusions will be in favour of the presidential camp that would get an additional number of known allies into parliament, amongst them Jamil Karzai and Bedar Zazai in Kabul, Mahmud Khan Suleimankhel in Paktika, the four Ghazni Pashtuns and former foreign minister Spanta’s brother Ahmad Wahed Taheri in Herat.
With Ahmad Khan Samangani (Samangan), Haji Muhammad Payenda (Sarepul), Gul Muhammad Pahlawan (Faryab) and Abdul Wahed Wahedi (Laghman), four prominent former mujahedin commanders make it to the WJ. (Ghor commander Dr Muhammad Ibrahim Malekzada survived narrowly, crushing down from 18,493 to 2,562 votes.) New would be also Jamiati Fazl Karim Aimaq (Kunduz) and former provincial governor andHezb-e Islami man Hamidullah Tokhi (Zabul). In Herat, Ismail Khan’s ally Nessar Ahmad Faizi Ghoriani makes a comeback (he had been disqualified earlier) and from Badakhshan, Rabbani’s protegée Abdul Shukkur Waqef Hakimi comes in. In Balkh, Al-Haj Muhammad Yusof Ghazanfar, from the business family of the same name, replaces deputy WJ secretary Muhammad Farhad Azimi. In Kabul, Olympic participant Rubina Jalali rises up.
Already on Tuesday, the pro-governmental Hewad daily – in a rather unusual way – had published a press statement of the Special Court inviting the protesting candidates to its 23 June session in Kabul, in order to witness the conclusion of its work. (The same had already happened for the 20 June, but then the court postponed it for ‘technical problems’.) They showed up in numbers and applauded when one of them, according to the court, made it back into the Wolesi Jirga
Prominent amongst the drop-outs are Sayyed Ishaq Gailani (Paktika), former minister for labour and social affairs Sayyed Ikramuddin Masumi (Takhar), Hezb-e Wahdat commander Khodaidad Erfani [and possibly the leading Hazara intellectual Dr Abdul Qayyum Sajjadi (both Ghazni) — not confirmed, see upcoming blog], the nephew of Ismaili leader and MP Sayyed Mansur Naderi, Sayyed Daud Naderi (Kunduz), Erfanullah Erfan and Jamiati ideologue Abdul Hafiz Mansur (both Kabul), as well as the two former leftists from Zabul, Qalatwal (another WJ secretary) and Andiwal.
These and the other MPs dropped by the Special Court have now the right to go to appeal, but it is not clear if they intend to avail themselves of it. While their names were being announced by the court, the MPs in fact were already discussing to start demonstrations on Friday.
Covered much less by the media, the Wolesi Jirga – still with the 62 now declared not elected by the Court – passed a vote of no-confidence about the Attorney General, the Chief Justice and two other members of the high council of the Supreme Court almost at the same time. Justification: the Attorney General and the others had ignored constant calls by the MPs to dissolve the special court they deemed ‘illegal’.
A day earlier, on 22 June, the WJ had decided to ask the four officials to elucidate on their refusal to dissolve the Special Court. The MPs convened an extraordinary session even on their free day, Thursday, to do so. They also ratified a new resolution labelling the special court ‘illegal’ again. These initiatives followed an open letter allegedly signed by a majority of MPs that had demanded the dissolution of the Special Court on 15 June already (more about this here), which had remained inconsequential, and an earlier attempt to summon the Attorney General on 9 April.
Yesterday, the Attorney General and the others did not turn up again because they refuse to be questioned by MPs whom they consider under investigation. The MPs went ahead anyway but is unclear whether their action conforms with the constitution. According to its article 92, the house can ask ministers to elucidate if 20 per cent of the WJ’s total members (i.e. 50 MPs) demand so, and in case the explanation of the minister turns out to be unsatisfactory, the house shall consider a vote of no-confidence. This must be explicit, direct as well as based on convincing reasons. The vote must also be issued by the majority of the members of the WJ. But what the reaction needs to be in the eventuality of a minister, or another official, rejecting the parliament’s summon is not stipulated in the constitution. The AG is justifying his refusal by pointing to the fact that he is not part of the executive but of the independent judiciary.)
It is unlikely that the MPs affected by the recount will recognise the legitimacy of the Special Court, but will the parliament be able to make a united stand against its decisions? There were around 130 MPs in the plenary today, but the big fishes like Yunos Qanuni, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf and Muhammad Muhaqqiq were absent, drawing criticism from the other MPs for campaigning to get their votes during the elections of the WJ administrative board, but failing to remain on their side during critical times.
The numbers released by the Special Court today may deepen this rift among the MPs. Although almost all of them are opposed in principle to the very existence of the Special Court, it is obvious that their future degree of resiliency and mobilization will vary according to their position in the newly released results. Those who see their seats in jeopardy will organize protest gatherings and demonstrations, while those who seem to be safe will probably leave for their long-awaited summer recess. In the meantime, the newly declared ‘winners’ will celebrate, and the amount of pressure on the IEC, the only body authorised to effect and certify changes in the electoral results, to implement the court decisions will increase.
But there is no need to worry: with the senior IEC officials out of the country for a conference and the President travelling to Iran next week, and even the possibility that some MPs decide to appeal, it looks as if the Special Court saga will continue still for a while.
(*) Complaints from the provinces of Kapisa, Uruzgan, Nimruz, Daikundi, Kunar, Parwan and Bamian did not lead to any changes in the electoral results there; Panjsher was the only province for which no complaints had been lodged with the Special Court.
(**) The following names and figures were recorded by us during the live TV programme which was marred by bad sound quality. As a result, we have a complete list of the ‘newcomers’ but only part of the drop-outs. We will follow up on this. The full list of the ‘newcomers’ is in the anex at the end of this blog.
Annex: ‘Newcomers’ to the Wolesi Jirga, according to the Special Court
Abdul Shukkur Waqif Hakimi
Munera Baharaki (f)
Tsaranwal Abdul Rauf
Azita Rafat (f)
Dr Nassim Mudaber
Al-Haj Muhammad Yusof Ghazanfar
Gul Muhammad Pahlawan
Musamma Saltanat (f)
Abdul Hakim Dalil
Mahmud Abdul Jabbar
Niaz Muhammad Amiri
Fazl Ahmad Khan
Mawlawi Din Muhammad
Ma’alim Mir Wali
Ahmad Wahid Taheri
Haji Malek Zarin
Nessar Ahmad Faizi Ghoriani
Ruz Muhammad Nur
Abdul Qader Zazai
Rubina Jalali (f)
Abdul Karim Achakzai
Haji Muhammad Ayub
Haji Muhammad Nur
Niaz Muhammad Amir Lalai
Wali Khan Hilamand
Abdul Qadir Kuchi
Fazl Karim Aimaq
Raisa Hussainkhel (f)
Abdul Hadi Wahedi
Gulmarai Laghmani (f)
Eng. Delawar Tutakhel
Dr. Khadija (f)
Mahmud Khan Suleimankhel
Ahmad Khan Samangani
Ustad Mahbuba (f)
Haji Muhammad Payenda
Qari Muhammad Hashem Haidarzada
Haji Muhammad Ismail Zabuli
Musama Torpekei (f)
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020