Political Landscape

Parliamentary Crisis: The Supreme Court Steps In


The resistance of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to implement the Special Electoral Court’s decision to replace 62 MPs due to alleged fraud, and the Supreme Court’s ruling that all decisions of the Wolesi Jirga are illegal until the 62 ‘new’ MPs take their place in parliament, have pushed this new institutional crisis to the next level of escalation. The 62 MPs challenged by the special court lost more ground, says AAN researcher Gran Hewad.

As a reaction to the special court’s findings, the IEC declared on 26 June 2011 that its final results announced in October 2010 are legal and accurate, i.e. still valid. On the same day, the Wolesi Jirga decided to withdraw confidence from all Supreme Court members with the justification that it had rejected the WJ’s demand to dissolve the Special Court (see our earlier blog on this here).

On 29 June 2011, both the Attorney General and the Commission for the Observation of the Constitution’s Implementation backed the Special Court’s findings in separate press conferences and urged the IEC to implement it. The next day, Afghanistan’s Supreme Court followed. In a press statement, it both called the establishment of the Special Court and its decision on the change of the 62 MPs legal. It insisted that it is the only authority that can interpret any law and keep ‘judicial order’ and declared all decisions taken by the Wolesi Jirga after the Special Court’s decision illegal until the 62 ‘new’ MPs take up their seats. It further urged the IEC to implement the court’s decision as soon as possible.

The government still has a card up its sleeves: The tenure of four of the seven IEC commissioners has expired and the appointment of new commissioners is the authority of the President. If he does so, he can end the IEC’s resistance. A new pro-Karzai IEC majority might accept the Special Court’s decision, which would leave only the 62 MPs whom the court wants out as the last line of resistance. They have already set up a Law Support Coalition with some of their unchallenged colleagues.

Under these circumstances, the Special Court – the establishment of which was suggested by the Supreme Court and approved by the President – remains an instrument of the executive and the judiciary, to subdue the third power, the legislative, or more precisely the parliament’s lower house. It remains to be seen now whether the 187 MPs that do not face a challenge by the Special Court (yet) will behave: will they stand in solidarity with their 62 colleagues threatened by expulsion or will they settle for their own success of being recognised as WJ members, assuming that they will be spared the ire of the President and his judicial tools when they leave the unlucky minority to its destiny?

Tagged with: , ,
Thematic Category: Political Landscape