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MPs-elect split on lower house opening

MPs-elect split on lower house opening

Jan 22, 2011 - 16:36

KABUL (PAN): Differences surfaced among lawmakers who met for a second day on Saturday to discuss whether to proceed with the inauguration of Parliament on Sunday in defiance of a presidential announcement to delay the ceremony for a month.

Expected to meet President Hamid Karzai on his return from a visit to Moscow later in the day, most of the 249 Wolesi Jirga members-elect debated the issue at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, a day after they vowed to open the parliament at any cost.

Before flying to Russia, Karzai announced a one-month delay to enable a special court to study allegations of fraud in the Sept. 18 election and hand down its verdict.

Some successful candidates softened their stance on the issue, saying that the Wolesi Jirga opening in violation of the president's announcement would be illegal and unconstitutional.

It would be against the national interest to open the house on an acrimonious note, believed Abdul Rahim Ayubi, a lawmaker from southern Kandahar province. An opening ceremony without the president would push the country into a political crisis.

"For petty personal gains, we should not deepen the standoff," he said, urging lawmakers to resolve the deadlock between the presidency and the legislature.

Another house member from eastern Kunar province, Wagma Sapi, agreed steps should be taken to put the country on the road to stability and development. The president himself should open the house in accordance with Article 64, she said.

But a number of meeting participants shouted at each other and insisted the inauguration must take place on Sunday. Acting speaker, Muhammad Sarwar Osman Farahi, said it was in the interest of the nation to open Parliament on schedule.

There was no legal hurdle to opening the house, he said, adding voters had been asking their representatives to start work as soon as possible. He urged members to stick to their stance.

Another MP, Ahmad Hanifi, also insisted the Wolesi Jirga should open as originally scheduled. He accused Karzai of manipulating election results to help his blue-eyed people find their way to the house. "The president will not honour his word even if we wait for months."

The participants selected former speaker Muhammad Yunus Qanuni and Mirwais Yasini to meet the president later in the day to discuss the issue.