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Delay in parliamentary polls to harm democracy: CMSJ

Delay in parliamentary polls to harm democracy: CMSJ

Jun 15, 2015 - 16:39

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Civil Movement for Social Justice (CMSJ) on Monday alleged the government planned to postpone parliamentary elections in order to cover up its expected future failures.

Some members of the Wolesi Jirga -- or lower house of parliament -- have urged the government to specify a date for parliamentary elections, insisting their work beyond June 22would be illegal.

The incumbent parliament’s tenure expires on June 22. Based on some media reports, the Presidential Palace has started discussions with several influential groups on the extension of parliament’s term.

On Sunday, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani reiterated the date for parliamentary polls would be announced soon and the government was committed to seeking financial resources for the elections.

Article 83 of the Constitution states: “The constitutionally mandated tenure of the House of People shall terminate after the disclosure of the results of the election, on the 1st of Saratan (22 June) and the new parliament shall commence work.”

In line with this article, the polls should have taken place by now but were postponed by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) due to lack of funds.

The CMSJ, however, warned if the elections were postponed, the government would continue with its own agenda, endangering the future of the democratic process.

Ghulam Mohammad Mohammadi, a CMSJ member, told journalists in Kabul at this delicate moment the government should not extend the parliament’s tenure.

He added the lower house was the only source of monitoring government’s activities and with further delays the assembly would lose its legitimacy.

Mohammadi believed the government wanted the lower house to lose its legitimacy so that it worked as the rulers desired. The move, he insisted, was aimed to cover up the government’s future failures.

He accused the unity government of seeking to postpone the elections for at least one year so that it could realise their agenda, including creation of differences among lawmakers to gain control over some of them.

The movement urged the government to launch the electoral reforms commission without further delay. Electoral reforms were a major point of agreement on formation of the sitting government.

Election-monitoring organisations have voiced concerns over the current situation, saying the government does not have the political will to bring about electoral reforms.

Ahmad Zaki, the CMSJ executive head, claimed no visible change had been seen in the socio-economic and political situation or reduction of security threats and poverty since the formation of the unity government,.

On the contrary, he maintained, private investment had slowed down and the economy was in bad shape. A delay in elections would worsen the situation and the government had no choice but to conduct the polls.

“If the government did not give a positive response to our demands, we will extend our protests to save the nascent democratic order,” he concluded.