Critics say Afghanistan has a ‘weak’ Parliament

KABUL (TOLO News): The ongoing rift in the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of the Parliament, has created concerns among the political elites and the people as they believe that the newly elected MPs have shown that the country has a “weak” legislature.

The legislators on Wednesday, June 19, were close to agreeing on a final decision on the house speaker when some MPs protested over public voting, which further deepened the crisis and led into a brawl among supporters of the two leading candidates — Mir Rahman Rahmani and Kamal Nasir Osuli.

“We had warned [at the beginning] that we will have a weak and a parliament full of problems if the parliamentary elections are not held in a fair manner by use of biometric system,” said Humayun Jarir, member of Hizb-e-Islami.

“Mr. Ashraf Ghani is personally responsible for this,” said political analyst Fazl Rahman Orya.

“When you break the desk or the chair, it means you slapped the people on the face,” said Tawfiq Salangi, a Kabul resident.

The US Ambassador in Kabul John Bass told reporters on Thursday that the rift over the speaker of the parliament is a “disaster”.

He said some MPs are after their “personal interests” rather than national interests.

Bass said that the United States is concerned about the matter.

Crisis in parliament which initially broke out in mid-May has obstructed the approval of 244 laws, agreements and drafts.

Footage from Wednesday’s session in the parliament that went viral on social media shows that a number of angry MPs threw away the chair and the desk of the speaker of the parliament to prevent Rahmani to take his seat.

The rift began on May 18, when 247 MPs decided to vote Rahmani and Osuli. Based on this quorum, 124 votes were needed for a winning candidate, but 244 MPs cast their votes in which Rahmani got 123 votes while Osuli got 55 votes. A single vote which could determine the fate of the house speaker was announced invalid due to having a dot in the bottom of the ballot paper.

On May 19, a committee of 15 lawmakers was formed to decide on the one controversial vote, but it failed. Another committee of 25 members was formed after that, but it also failed to overcome the rift.

However, on June 18, the lawmakers decided to revote for the two MPs — either by using secret or public voting. Wednesday’s session went into crisis after Osuli’s supporters opposed the public voting by MPs.

Two lawmakers from Kandahar, Sayed Ahmad Khadim and Sayed Ahmad Silab, have been accused of breaking the speaker’s desk.

The two MPs said they were trying to save the desk from harms.

“I rushed as a goodwill gesture to save the desk,” said Khadim.

Based on Article 259 of the Constitution, posing harm to national assets is a crime.

“Law predicts middle and long-term jail for such acts,” said legal expert Abdul Subhan Misbah.