KABUL - Parliamentarians on Sunday continued to observe a silence for a second consecutive day as a mark of protest against President Hamid Karzai's failure to send his Cabinet choices to the house for a vote of confidence. Thirty percent of the Wolesi Jirga members, who were present during the session, spent their time thumbing desks, reading newspapers and having private discussions.
A week back, lawmakers announced a 15-day delay in their summer recess to help Karzai finalize the list of Cabinet choices and heads of independent organizations, as well as Supreme Court judges.
Over the past 18 months, acting ministers have been heading the ministries of water and energy, women's affairs, urban development, transport and aviation, communications and information technology.
They failed to obtain a vote of confidence from the MPs last year. Although the constitutional tenure of three Supreme Court judges has ended, Karzai is yet to appoint their successors, despite several reminders from legislators.
Last week, Karzai recently told a parliamentary delegation that a commission was working on the list which would be sent to the house soon. The president asked lawmakers to go on their recess. But Parliament delayed the month-long break to wait for Karzai to finalize his list.
Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, who a day earlier gave Karzai three days to refer his nominees to the house for a vote of confidence, said their protest would continue until the summer recess began. He warned the protest would not end even after the recess if their demand was not met.
A number of Kabul residents believe that lawmakers wanted to avoid facing the masses due to their failure to resolve people's problems. A Kabul university student, Ahmad Khalid, said there must be many other things for MPs to debate instead of protesting and discussing personal matters.
Hamidullah, a shop owner in the Nadar Pakhtun Kot locality of Kabul, said the protest by lawmakers was a sheer waste of time. But legislators rejected the claims as unfounded.
Qazi Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, a lawmaker from western Herat province, said observing silence was not a futile exercise; it was their job as part of the agenda.
Reading a newspaper, Hanafi recalled their silence had in the past forced Karzai to introduce his Cabinet nominees for a vote of confidence. He hoped their protest would yield positive result this time too. (Pajhwok)