Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

MPs’ Dismissal of the Ministers

As Afghanistan is going through a crucial period of its history, it is being tested in various ways. Currently, it is being tested regarding its internal political situation that seems to be facing serious challenges. First, the political environment was dominated by the differences between the offices of President and Chief Executive Officer and now there are clear indications of conflict between the executive and legislature, which seems to be dragging the political situation towards further uncertainty. Members of Parliament (MPs) do not see eye to eye with the executive regarding its performance and they have now decided to take serious actions against its members by dismissing them in the parliament.
The Wolesi Jirga on Monday dismissed another minister – the minister of higher education, Farida Momand, bringing the total to six ministers fired in three days. MPs had summoned the Urban Development Minister Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, Higher Education Minister Farida Momand and Abdul Basir Anwar, the Minister of Justice to report back on their development budget spent for the year. The ministers did not, however, arrive. This did not hinder MPs who still voted in their absence. Both Naderi and Anwar survived the vote of confidence but Momand was dismissed.
Earlier on Sunday, MPs summoned the education minister, Asadullah Hanif Balkhi, the minister of transport and civil aviation, Mohammadullah Batash, and Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi. They also failed to appear before parliament – where they too were supposed to give a report back on how much of their development budgets they had spent. Education Minister and Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation were dismissed; however, Finance Minister Eklil Hakimi could survive.
While in Saturday's session three other ministers – The Minister of Public Works Mahmood Baligh; Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled Nasreen Oryakhil, and Salahuddin Rabbani, the minister of foreign affairs were dismissed after they failed to provide satisfactory reports on the spending of development budgets. Important is to note that nine other ministers are to appear before the Wolesi Jirga this week and it would be interesting to see what will be decided about their fate. If the Wolesi Jirga keeps on sacking the ministers, the number may reach to 10 or even more. And, what will be the reaction of the President and CEO ultimately? Will the decision of the parliament followed and there will be arrangements for the introduction of new ministers is important to see.
The Office of the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has already said that the ministers who failed to secure a vote of confidence would still continue their work. The Office has called for the interpretation of article 92 of the constitution, which defines the procedures for the impeachment of government ministers. A final decision on the fate of these ministers can be made once article 92 of the constitution has been interpreted, said Jawed Faisal, deputy spokesman for the CEO.
Interesting would be to see what the Wolesi Jirga says after this decision by the CEO office as earlier they had sacked ministers in this particular way and there was no requirement that the article 92 should be interpreted. Anyhow, this is a different situation as many ministers are being dismissed at the same time, which definitely has its costs.
Once the ministers are dismissed, there are influences on the tasks that their ministries are already performing. There will be a discontinuation of many tasks that will further influence the expenditure of the budget by the ministry. Moreover, finding replacement for the positions take time and by the time the replacements understand and start their responsibilities, there will already by a lag in activities and further pressure will develop that will influence the overall situation.
Nevertheless, it may also be argued that the ministers who are not able to perform their responsibilities properly and spend their budgets sufficiently, should be held accountable as it would be a strict message for the replacements. But, this particular positive aspect needs to be gauged in relation to the costs that have to be, ultimately, shouldered by the country and its poor people. There should be a cost-benefit analysis and special consideration should be given to the fact that the precious time and resources should not be wasted and political gains should be considered secondary to national interests.
Another important aspect of the situation can be studied in perspective of the fact that questions the legal status of the Wolesi Jirga after it has completed its tenure. And what would be the position of the President who had favored the continuation of the tenure of Wolesi Jirga till the parliamentary elections are held?  Would he push for further urgency to arrange parliamentary elections or he would opt for negotiations with MPs to come to a temporary solution for the ongoing differences? He also has the option of accepting the votes of the House and finding the replacements by accepting the costs that are related to such a decision.