Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, August 19th, 2019

Questions on the Upcoming Loya Jirga

The preparation for the Loya Jirga to be held in September2011 is in full swing. The government of President Karzai insists that the convening of the Loya Jirga is essential for the purpose of holding wide-ranging consultations with the people of Afghanistan regarding the issue of the strategic agreement including long-term military presence to be signed with the US. What is disturbing is President Karzai government's unwillingness to share with the nation the full agenda of the issues to be discussed and decided in the upcoming Loya Jirga. Moreover, according to the Constitution, the Loya Jirga's composition will be incomplete without participation by heads of District Councils which are non-existent as of now. The government of President Karzai has indefinitely put on hold elections for District Councils. The mere fact that the upcoming Loya Jirga will be convened without heads of District Councils puts a serious question mark over its legality.

Loya Jirga, as a traditional-turned-Constitutional institution whose members, not being elected by the people, will be chosen or better to say hand-picked by the government, will be extremely vulnerable to manipulation and influence-peddling by the government. Therefore, there is a significant likelihood that the Loya Jirga will end up becoming a rubber stamp for the government's agendas.

This is more disturbing since the issues that the upcoming Loya Jirga will discuss and decide on are issues of vital importance for the nation which will set the future course of the country for many years to come. Another issue is the relationship between Loya Jirga as a traditional institution and Parliament as a modern manifestation of the people's "popular will". The way things are developing now, sooner or later, we may see another full-blown crisis arising from the Parliament and Loya Jirga's parallel and overlapping mandates.

Another problem, as said, is the government's reluctance to come clean on the full spectrum of issues to be discussed and decided in the Loya Jirga. There have been unconfirmed reports that the government of President Karzai wants to propose amending the Constitution in the Loya Jirga.

This is not confirmed yet, however, If it turns out that the government of President Karzai is indeed planning for this, then one can safely assume that the President will try to push an agenda of lifting the two-term limit on the presidency currently enshrined in the Constitution. Such an outcome – a de facto president-for-life, if realized in the end, will be the final death blow, the coup de grace, to the cause of democracy in Afghanistan while it will open the floodgates of civil war and gradual disintegration of Afghanistan. We hope the President is considerate and well-advised enough not to entertain such over-ambitious thoughts.