The Afghan government on Sunday refused to allow members of the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of Parliament, to enter the parliament house, days after the lawmakers returned from the winter recess.
The lawmakers immediately opposed the move, saying they were still the incumbent legislators and that government’s decision would create legal vacuum.
“It is in contravention of the prevailing laws and the Constitution, because the legislative body is paralyzed,” said one MP Humayun Humayun, the second deputy speaker of the Wolesi Jirga.
In response to the MPs criticisms, the Presidential Palace said the move was not extralegal and that the new parliament will be inaugurated once the new members come in.
“I think it was not necessary to open the parliament for one week or ten days with the previous MPs, because from the legal point of view, the tenure of the previous parliament members has expired,” said Ali Hedayat, media advisor to Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish.
“Delaying the inauguration of the parliament in a way violates the largest body of the government of Afghanistan,” said Aziz Rafaee, a civil society activist.
“Although it creates a legal vacuum, but it is vital to find a better solution to this issue. In our perspective, results of another fifteen provinces should be announced so that the national assembly is inaugurated and this will be the best solution,” said Habibullah Shinwari, an election observer.
Meanwhile, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the commission is working round the clock to finalize the results of the remaining 15 provinces.
“The leadership of both commissions have discussed this issue in their meetings. They are in a hurry to send the final results of the remaining provinces to the election commission,” said Zabi Sadat, deputy spokesman to the IEC.
This comes few days after government vowed to inaugurate the new parliament once the Independent Election Commission announces the final results of October 20 parliamentary polls which were marred by widespread allegations of fraud and major irregularities that finally led to the dismissal of the entire members of the election commissions.
President Ghani’s deputy spokesman Shahussain Murtazawi told TOLOnews on Wednesday that the president will inaugurate new parliament once the final result of parliamentary elections is announced.
The Afghan parliament’s term expired on 22 June 2015. But Ghani in a decree extended the parliament’s term which faced questions by some Afghan law experts and election monitoring institutions at the time about the legal grounds of this matter.
Humayun last week said the incumbent members of the parliament will continue their job as usual until the new members come in.
Legal experts said that if the incumbent parliament continues its tenure after March 7, this would be in contravention of the Constitution of Afghanistan and in that case, the incumbent government will take the shape of an authoritarian administration.