Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

Senators Oppose Foreigners as ECC Members

Senators Oppose Foreigners as ECC Members

KABUL - Some members of the Meshrano Jirga -- upper house of parliament -- on Sunday voiced their aversion to the inclusion of two foreigners in the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).

The Presidential Palace says the two foreigners' membership of the five-member electoral watchdog is violative of all Afghan laws, warning that President Karzai will not approve their appointments.

Karzai said on Thursday foreign members be removed from the UN-supported panel. "The presence of foreigners in the ECC is against the sovereignty of Afghanistan," he told a joint media briefing with NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

On Sept. 24, the Wolesi Jirga -- lower house -- approved a draft law on the ECC composition, duties and powers. Under the draft, the president will approve the appointment of five of the eight experts recommended for the commission's membership.

Similarly, the UN can name two experts as temporary members of the body that previously had three Afghan and two foreign commissioners.

Referred to the Senate Legislative Commission for approval, the draft law was presented for a house debate today. A lawmaker from Helmand blamed foreign members of the ECC for fraud in the electoral process.

Sher Mohammad Akhundzada claimed: "In the last presidential and parliamentary polls, the outsiders committed fraud and paved the way for others to perpetrate anomalies." He called for excluding foreigners from the panel.

A public representative from Kunar, Rafiullah Haidari, also opposed the presence of foreigners in the ECC, warning they could problems in the 2014 elections. "Over the past 11 years, foreigners have repeatedly broken their promises and the people no longer trust them."

Foreigners be allowed to monitor the process, but should have no right to interfere in the election, he suggested.

But another senator from Zabul, Mohammad Daud Hassas, supported the presence of foreigners in the ECC to prevent irregularities. "If foreigners are excluded, people won't trust the current administration and will not participate in the election."

His view was endorsed by a legislator from Bamyan, Hidayatullah Rehaee, who urged the senators to approve foreigners' membership of the ECC.

First Deputy Chairman, Mohammad Alam Ezedyar who chaired the session, said: "When the draft is placed before the Senate for approval, we can stake out our stance on the issue."

Under Article 100 of the constitution, if the decision of one house is rejected by another, a joint committee is formed to resolve the disagreement. The committee ruling is enforced after the president's approval.

In case the committee fails to resolve the disagreement, the issue is referred back to the Wolesi Jirga, which can resolve it in the next session by a majority vote.

A day earlier, deputy presidential spokesman Siamak Herawa said the presence of foreigners in ECC was against the law. He warned the draft law would not be signed by the president for obvious reasons. (Pajhwok)