Wolesi Jirga adjourned for day amid ruckus

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: A fierce verbal clash between lawmakers and attempts to attack each other physically marred Wednesday’s session of the Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament.

The house had summoned Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) and traffic department officials to question them about high air fares and problems in the traffic system, but the session was disrupted due to the dispute between three lawmakers and the deputy speaker.

It began when Gul Pacha Majeedi, a lawmaker from southeastern Paktia province, accused first deputy speaker Humayun Humayun and lawmaker Lalai Hamidzai from southern Kandahar province of forcibly taking away some documents from the archive of the Wolesi Jirga TV office.

“Humayun, Hamidzai and another person with a white handkerchief around his head, who was not identifiable, entered the Wolesi Jirga TV office in company of armed men and took some documents from the archive around 11pm two days ago,” he said.

He said the individuals had also given money to some officials of the TV archive and parliament police who mistreated some others.

Majeedi continued the first deputy speaker assaulted the TV archive without observing law and morality and threatened the security of all employees and even representatives of the parliament.

He said CCTV records of the incident were available and the Attorney General Office (AGO) and the Supreme Court should investigate the case.

Responding, Humayun confirmed he entered the TV office, but said: “I and Lalai Hamidzai went there to ask why our statements against the house speaker are stopped by Khudai Nazar Nasrat, secretary of the house, from airing on the TV.”

He said the Wolesi Jirga TV was not someone’s personal property to censor certain publications. He denied entering the TV office with armed individuals.

“Majeedi’s allegations are based on his personal grudges that developed after I took custody of a vehicle which belonged to the first deputy speaker. Majeedi had used the vehicle illegally for about a year,” he said.

As Hamidzai said Maeedi wanted to please spymaster Masum Stanikzai and was making conspiracies, Majeedi stood from his seat and hurled abusive words at Hamidzai who also tried to move towards for a physical fight with Majeedi, but security guards and other lawmakers intervened.

Seddiq Ahmad Osmani, a lawmaker from Parwan province, said: “All know about what Majeedi said, so why you and the house secretary are silent about the case or you hiding the facts.”

He said Majeedi was right and the first deputy speaker had taken away some documents by force from the house TV office. However, he did not provide details about the documents.

Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said: “The august house belongs to the nation, this is not a place to insult each other, scuffle or show force, you engage in physical fights instead of hearing each other’s views.” “Such acts represent ‘bad family training’ and human behavior,” he remarked.

Abdul Qayum Sajjadi, a lawmaker from Ghazni province, said that accusing each other and engaging in disputes was an insult to the lower house.

Ramadan Bashardost from Kabul province suggested the house should allow the AGO to investigate the issue.

Obaidullah Barakzai, who represents Uruzgan province in the Wolesi Jirga, said, “The Parliament is now a place to show power so no one stand against you.”

He said the first deputy speaker had told him a few days back that “even your father cannot summon the governor of Uruzgan.”

But Humayun turned off Barakzai’s microphone, a move that angered Barakzai who attempted to attack the first deputy speaker but was prevented by other lawmakers.

On this, the Wolesi Jirga speaker called off the session.

Outside the house, Hamidzai told reporters that Wednesday’s session was disrupted based on a plan and conspiracy.

He accused Mohammad Masum Stanikzai, National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief, and Mohammad Akram Khpalwak, an advisor to the president of interfering in parliament’s affairs.

He said the two officials wanted to dishonor the Wolesi Jirga members and hide corruption cases.

On July 22, Humayun accused the secretary of the lower house of embezzlement and illegal employment of individuals.

However, the house secretary rejected the allegations.

A report recently published by Tolo News TV channel also accused the Wolesi Jirga speaker and secretary of embezzlements in some contracts.

The report said 50 million afghanis was paid in rent for the Wolesi Jirga speaker’s house and his office outside the parliament from government funds.

The speaker was also accused of employing a number of his favorite persons in the Wolesi Jirga secretariat.

A commission has been tasked to investigate the accusations, but no practical steps have so far taken in this regard.