Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, June 26th, 2017

Unknown Fate of Disqualified Ministers

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Unknown Fate of Disqualified Ministers

Almost two months ago, Wolesi Jirga or Lower House of the parliament impeached 16 ministers of the national unity government and disqualified seven of them. Ministers were impeached because they spent less than 70% of allocated budget of their respective ministries. Government in reaction, called this act of House of Representatives unjustified and referred the case to Supreme Court.
President has instructed disqualified ministers to continue their work until the Supreme Court issues its decree; but House of Representatives called it illegal act and asked government to introduce new illegible persons for getting confidence vote. This is not the first legal problem between government and House of Representatives of Afghanistan; we remember that National Unity government at the beginning passed hard days for making and completing its cabinet. It seems that government has faced same problem once again. Seven ministries are now controlled by caretaker ministers and it is not clear when the Supreme Court announces its view on the issue. At the same time Wolesi Jirga intends to impeach defense minister also to explain on security situations.
Legislators - who had warned ministers earlier to spend the allotted funds in fixed time- accused the disqualified ministers of inability and inefficiency at their works. But government disputed it, blamed the House to have ignored people’s vote and did not have enough scrutiny and deliberation on reports and responses of ministries. President Ashraf Ghani in an urgent meeting of the council of ministers referring to principle of ‘division of power’ said that impeachment was different from accountability. He asked the Supreme Court to check the decision by the Wolesi Jirga, while considering security situation of the country and financial restrictions in previous fiscal year. “Other obstacles, humane capability and terms and conditions of donors for implementation of projects and spending funds, also should be looked in”, Ghani said. Ministers were disqualified by Wolesi Jirga members in their absence and government says: this is unjustified.
Constitution of Afghanistan in article 92 gives this right to Wolesi Jirga to give confidence vote to ministers and take it back; but some lawyers believe that legislators should have firm, lawful and valid reasons to disqualify ministers; it has been specified clearly in the constitution that reasons for disqualifying ministers and other officials –who need to be approved by the Wolesi Jirga - should be explicit, open and justified. Lawyers say: personal grudges of legislators and their intentions not related to official works, should not be involved and that should not be incentive for giving confidence vote and taking it back.
At the meantime, legislators were frequently accused of using right of impeachment for their personal economic gains and deals. Members of Wolesi Jirga in the past approved and disapproved ministers on ethnical basis, political affiliation and private relationships. Impeachment process of the ministers this time also was not transparent and there are doubts and speculations about action taken by members of the lower house of the parliament. 
However, unknown fate of disqualified ministers - who are continuing their work as authorized ministers- is surprising for people. To end this wonder and bewilderment, first National Unity Government should make it clear that either disqualified ministers are lawful ministers with legal mandate or they are caretaker ministers. Secondly; context of article 91, 92 of the constitution is clear and needs no interpretation. Yet if they want to interpret it, a long time is not required doing that. Supreme Court as highest judicial organization of the country and the only authorized source to interpret constitution, is obliged to do its duty and announce its view on the issue; so that fate of the ministers is clear and next legal procedure should be passed.
While Afghanistan is facing challenges in terms of security, economy, governance, corruption and unemployment; people expect their representatives in parliament not to ignore national interests and spirit of true representation. As constitution requires them, they should monitor activities of government, investigate works of officials and impeach them; but all these must be based on law and national interests not personal.
National unity government has been made up of two rival coalitions; who contested in election bitterly and both sides still remember their tough and serious confrontations. Leaders of both groups, though, overcame the difference and tensions of election rivalries; but distribution of posts and getting more power still matters for them. To introduce new ministers nominee to parliament needs agreement of both teams; people remember that it took more than a year that both teams finally compromised and completed members of the cabinet. That should not be repeated again; because as we waste time, we lose opportunities and new challenges appear. Moreover, it increases disappointment among people and deepen mistrust on government.
Recent political developments in the country indicate that probably new bargaining between government leaders and on the other hand between government and some high profile political Afghan heads started. Tension in political circle is continuing, Budget plan is still on legislators’ desk which has been rejected twice, peace talks is in complete ambiguity, terrorist groups are active and threatening country and people; though Afghan security forces are doing well. At this critical juncture, our government leaders and politicians should work for betterment of the country, protecting national interest and helping people reach their dreams and aspiration. Controversy on taking ministries or other high level posts, struggling for rights of political parties and persons instead of people and country, gives us nothing except miseries. A state is successful when there is full coordination and cooperation among executive power, legislature and judiciary. Contrast among these main pillars of the state, leave us no opportunity to build the country and serve that nation. Ministries and other high level positions with caretaker ministers or heads were always coupled with irregularities and corruption. Concerned authorities must step to end this situation in accordance with constitution.

Asif Ghaznawi is the newly emerging writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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