Interpellation of Afghan Ministers: Deepening divide between government and parliament19 / November 2016 | 0 Comment
The final day of the interpellation of the Afghan ministers showed happy results in favor of the cabinet ministers. The three ministers — Minister of Public Health, Minister of Refugees and Repatriation and Minister of Economy — survived Parliament’s vote of no confidence on November 16, 2016.
With 170 votes of confidence and 28 votes of no confidence, Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health, remained in his position. Sayyed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, secured 105 votes in his favor and got 90 votes of no confidence and Abdul Sattar Murad remained in the ministry receiving 114 votes of confidence and 81 votes of no confidence.
Abdul Bari Jahani, Minister of Information and Culture, was also supposed to be interpellated by the Afghan Parliament, but because he had submitted his resignation to the president last week his interpellation was suspended. In his resignation letter, Jahani stated physical illness as the reason to resign from his position.
According to the Administrative Board of the Parliament, if Jahani’s resignation is not approved by the President, he will also have to face parliamentary voting.
Under interpellation sessions, ministers who had spent less than 70% of their development budgets, must face the parliament.
The Supreme Court judgment
Last week the Afghan Parliament sacked seven ministers who had spent less than 70% of their ministries’ development budget in the fiscal year 2015.
On Saturday, the Afghan parliament began interpellation by dismissing Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Public Works, and Transportation.
Among 16 ministers faced the Parliament, 7 ministers were dismissed and 9 ministers remained in their offices.
The seven dismissed ministers are Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Public Works, Labor and Social Affairs, Education, Transportation, Higher Education, and Communication.
The 9 ministers who could gain vote of confidence from Parliament are Ministers of Finance, Urban Development, Justice, Counter Narcotics, Agriculture, Energy and Water, Immigration, Economy and Public Health.
However, the interpellation process has raised some disagreement between the Parliament and the presidential palace of Afghanistan.
The Afghan President has declined to accept the Parliament’s decision of dismissing the ministers and has said that the Supreme Court would make the final decision and judgment on the issue.
The president has also said that until the Supreme Court does not finalize its judgment, the ousted ministers should handle and carry on with their duties.
On the other hand, in the eyes of the Afghanistan’s parliament, the Supreme Court of the country lacks jurisdiction to decide on this particular case.
Zahir Qadir, the first deputy of the Afghan lower house of the parliament, said that “the Supreme Court is not the legal body to interpret the law.”
Shah Hussain Murtazawi, the deputy spokesperson of president Ghani, said, “The Parliament ignoring President’s request to postpone the dismissal of cabinet ministers has taken a confrontational approach.”
On Monday (14 November) a number of parliamentarians suggested that the dismissal of Ministers should be postponed for two weeks. They suggested, “Now that the government has questioned the interpellation process, for the good of the country, we need to postpone the dismissal process for two weeks, so that we could fix the problem with the government through talks and negotiations.” However, some other parliamentarians disagreed with the suggestion and requested to continue the dismissal process.
Muhammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, representative of Kandahar province, is among the parliamentarians who proposed to postpone the interpellation process considering the current security issues in the country and to prevent confrontation between the Parliament and the Presidential Palace.
Lalai Hamidzai told Khabarnama that most of the MPs disagreed with the proposal and somehow formed a white coup against the government.
He added, “Parliament instead of confronting with the government, needed to act more cooperatively.”
Lalai said, “The Afghan Supreme Court as the third power in the state has the right to bring peace between the Parliament and the government that are opposing each other. To act as a mediator is not illegal.” However, Lalai believes that the Supreme Court should not act one-sided. The Supreme Court must act in a way that the confrontation between the parliament and the presidency should change to cooperation, he stated.
Zahir Qadir, first deputy of the Afghan House of Representatives, had earlier said that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to decide on this case.
Fall of the System
The prevailing opinion in the Parliament over president’s decision to refer the issue to the Supreme Court is the same as the first deputy of the parliament Zahir Qadir said that the Supreme Court does not have the stance to interfere in this case.
Jafar Mahdavi, representative of Kabul in the Parliament, told Khabarnama, “President’s statement that a final decision on the interpellation of ministers could be made by the Supreme Court is contrary to the constitution and allowing the Supreme Court to interfere in this case is an attempt to trigger tensions and political crises in Afghanistan and paralyze the government.”
According to Mahdavi, “The three branches of the government: Executive, Legislature and Judiciary have their defined authorities. The President has no right to interfere in the function of the legislative branch of the government.”
With the end of the interpellation process that raised tension between parliament and presidential palace and the President’s decision to turn to the Supreme Court to decide on the fate of the dismissed ministers, all are waiting to hear the Supreme Court’s judgment over this serious matter.
It seems that If the Supreme Court acts in favor of the dismissed ministers and vote one-sidedly, the existing tension between the Afghan Parliament and the government would go deeper. In order to overcome the current crisis, the Afghan politicians should soon think of other solutions or alternatives.