Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Political Landscape

The slow winding down of the Parliamentary crisis

Gran Hewad Martine van Bijlert 7 min

Over the last few days the number of MPs attending the plenary session has been slowly growing, while the Law Support Coalition has struggled to maintain coherence. Individual members are being peeled off, while even those determined to make a stand are questioning whether they should remain outside the session. A compromise seems to be in the making. The government, in the meantime, has introduced its first two candidates for the vote of confidence. A quick update by Gran Hewad and Martine van Bijlert.

On Wednesday 5 October 2011 around 90 MPs were present in the plenary session. The discussions were without clear agenda. Kandahar MP Ayubi suggested that the Parliament ask the IDLG (Independent Directorate for Local Governance) to instruct its local provincial departments to organize public gatherings, so that they could inform the public of the policy changes with regard to the strategic partnership with India and the decision to now “talk with Pakistan”. Parwan MP Satar Khawasi complained against the searches by international military forces of the houses of religious leaders: “they are searching their houses and disgracing them, it is a terrible thing to marginalize the religious scholars.” He warned that if the religious leaders reject the international military forces based on religion reasons, it would seriously jeopardize the situation for the both the international military and the government of Afghanistan. The session also agreed on a temporary increase in working hours of the MPs, as the MPs hadn’t worked as much as they were supposed to.

Probably the most relevant issue was the secretariat ‘s announcement that the government had sent a list of two names as candidates for the remaining slots in the Independent Commission for Supervision of the Implementation of the Constitution (ICSIC). The two candidates are Abdul Munir Danish and Mohammad Gul Haqiqi. The move is widely seen as the precursor for the introduction of candidate’s for the seven pending Cabinet slots – with all the dinner parties and negotiations and offers of pay-offs that such a process brings. The period preceding the votes of confidence is crucial for the accumulation of income and influence, and is one of the reasons why MPs are interested in the job. It is certainly an incentive to resume normal parliamentary proceedings.

After Wednesday’s session the Law Support Coalition (LSC), which had refused to attend the plenary sessions since the IEC replaced nine MPs, held a press conference.* The coalition’s spokespersons Assadullah Saadati (Dari) and Haji Zaher Qadir (Pashtu) announced that they had been meeting with the heads of provincial councils over the last few days and had been requested by them to re-join the sessions. He announced that the coalition intended to come to the house on Saturday 8 October, together with the provincial council heads who would act as mediators. He reiterated that the coalition would continue its struggle to support the law and to defend the nine excluded MPs. In answer to a question the spokesperson said that the nine newly included MPs were still illegal from the LSC’s point of view, while another member stated privately that the LSC will insist that the votes of the nine be boycotted and not counted as valid.

The number of coalition members was initially more than a hundred, but it has decreased to around 50. As the court verdict initially concerned 62 MPs, all of them plus their sympathizers were members of the protesting coalition, but when the IEC reduced the number of excluded MPs to nine, many members gradually lost interest. Moreover, over the weeks individual MPs have been gravitating back to the plenary session, some because they have been persuaded by persistent government phone calls and promises of rewards or support, while others were feeling increasingly uncomfortable and embarrassed over the failure to do their jobs as MPs.

The leadership of the coalition has probably realised that is at the edge of collapse and is now trying to consolidate whatever coherence is left so it can return to the house as a political force, rather than lose its members one by one.

In front of the tent, in the meantime, there was another press conference, organised by female MPs in support of former Herat MP Semin Barakzai. She has started a hunger strike to protest her removal by the IEC and is now in her fifth day. The women asked organizations in support of women’s rights to help Semin to end her hunger strike. The plenary session also decided to send a delegation to the tent to ask her to start eating again.

It is possible that by Saturday the Parliament will slowly be edging towards normalcy again, as the pressures of promises and criticisms are wearing the protestors down. It is, however, equally possible that the LSC’s desire for some seeming concession – so they can claim that they have not sold out – will not be met, and that we will be witnessing another round of controversy, before things settle down.

* The coalition, led by Haji Zaher Qadir¸ was established this summer after it became clear that the Special Court’s investigations into electoral fraud complaints would probably result in changes in the composition of the Wolesi Jirga. When the IEC announced its decision to exclude nine MPs and the ad hoc loyalist Reformist group supported the exclusion, the coalition left the house’s sessions in protest and refused to come back.

For more background on the emergence of the coalition see here. For background on the changes ordered by the IEC, see here.

Over the last few days the number of MPs attending the plenary session has been slowly growing, while the Law Support Coalition has struggled to maintain coherence. Individual members are being peeled off, while even those determined to make a stand are questioning whether they should remain outside the session. A compromise seems to be in the making. The government, in the meantime, has introduced its first two candidates for the vote of confidence. A quick update by Gran Hewad and Martine van Bijlert.

On Wednesday 5 October 2011 around 90 MPs were present in the plenary session. The discussions were without clear agenda. Kandahar MP Ayubi suggested that the Parliament ask the IDLG (Independent Directorate for Local Governance) to instruct its local provincial departments to organize public gatherings, so that they could inform the public of the policy changes with regard to the strategic partnership with India and the decision to now “talk with Pakistan”. Parwan MP Satar Khawasi complained against the searches by international military forces of the houses of religious leaders: “they are searching their houses and disgracing them, it is a terrible thing to marginalize the religious scholars.” He warned that if the religious leaders reject the international military forces based on religion reasons, it would seriously jeopardize the situation for the both the international military and the government of Afghanistan. The session also agreed on a temporary increase in working hours of the MPs, as the MPs hadn’t worked as much as they were supposed to.

Probably the most relevant issue was the secretariat ‘s announcement that the government had sent a list of two names as candidates for the remaining slots in the Independent Commission for Supervision of the Implementation of the Constitution (ICSIC). The two candidates are Abdul Munir Danish and Mohammad Gul Haqiqi. The move is widely seen as the precursor for the introduction of candidate’s for the seven pending Cabinet slots – with all the dinner parties and negotiations and offers of pay-offs that such a process brings. The period preceding the votes of confidence is crucial for the accumulation of income and influence, and is one of the reasons why MPs are interested in the job. It is certainly an incentive to resume normal parliamentary proceedings.

After Wednesday’s session the Law Support Coalition (LSC), which had refused to attend the plenary sessions since the IEC replaced nine MPs, held a press conference.* The coalition’s spokespersons Assadullah Saadati (Dari) and Haji Zaher Qadir (Pashtu) announced that they had been meeting with the heads of provincial councils over the last few days and had been requested by them to re-join the sessions. He announced that the coalition intended to come to the house on Saturday 8 October, together with the provincial council heads who would act as mediators. He reiterated that the coalition would continue its struggle to support the law and to defend the nine excluded MPs. In answer to a question the spokesperson said that the nine newly included MPs were still illegal from the LSC’s point of view, while another member stated privately that the LSC will insist that the votes of the nine be boycotted and not counted as valid.

The number of coalition members was initially more than a hundred, but it has decreased to around 50. As the court verdict initially concerned 62 MPs, all of them plus their sympathizers were members of the protesting coalition, but when the IEC reduced the number of excluded MPs to nine, many members gradually lost interest. Moreover, over the weeks individual MPs have been gravitating back to the plenary session, some because they have been persuaded by persistent government phone calls and promises of rewards or support, while others were feeling increasingly uncomfortable and embarrassed over the failure to do their jobs as MPs.

The leadership of the coalition has probably realised that is at the edge of collapse and is now trying to consolidate whatever coherence is left so it can return to the house as a political force, rather than lose its members one by one.

In front of the tent, in the meantime, there was another press conference, organised by female MPs in support of former Herat MP Semin Barakzai. She has started a hunger strike to protest her removal by the IEC and is now in her fifth day. The women asked organizations in support of women’s rights to help Semin to end her hunger strike. The plenary session also decided to send a delegation to the tent to ask her to start eating again.

It is possible that by Saturday the Parliament will slowly be edging towards normalcy again, as the pressures of promises and criticisms are wearing the protestors down. It is, however, equally possible that the LSC’s desire for some seeming concession – so they can claim that they have not sold out – will not be met, and that we will be witnessing another round of controversy, before things settle down.

* The coalition, led by Haji Zaher Qadir¸ was established this summer after it became clear that the Special Court’s investigations into electoral fraud complaints would probably result in changes in the composition of the Wolesi Jirga. When the IEC announced its decision to exclude nine MPs and the ad hoc loyalist Reformist group supported the exclusion, the coalition left the house’s sessions in protest and refused to come back.

For more background on the emergence of the coalition see here. For background on the changes ordered by the IEC, see here.

Tags:

IEC Elections Wolesi Jirga Government

Authors:

Martine van Bijlert

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