Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Uncertainty on CE Post Exists Among Electoral Teams

Uncertainty on CE Post Exists Among Electoral Teams

KABUL - Legal experts and election watchdogs consider the creation of a Chief Executive Post as a move against the Constitution while electoral teams in the upcoming presidential election have mixed views regarding the position.
The maintenance of a Chief Executive Post, creation of a prime minister post, increase in presidential deputies from two to three, alliance with the Taliban in presidential election, arranging a Loya Jirga for constitutional changes are main topics all electoral teams will make rhetoric on in days to come.
Some electoral teams who support the Chief Executive Post say the post would be converted into a prime ministerial slot by amending the Constitution through a Loy Jirga.
The Afghanistan’s Grand National Alliance, an electoral alliance of several parties and political figures, suggests three deputy presidents and three deputy chief executives.
Ahmad Zia Masoud, a member of this alliance, had said: “Though the formula has no mention in the Constitution, yet the next president-elect would call into session a loya jirga to amend the Constitution and create the PM post.”
Meanwhile, some electoral teams say are against the Chief Executive Post because it is against the Constitution.
Anwarul Haq Ahadi, head of the New National Front and a potential presidential hopeful, said he had already explained his position on the issue.
Haq’s party has separated ways with the Grand National Alliance over differences on the Chief Executive Post and changes in the Constitution.
In a statement, Haq’s party said due to differences on the continuation of Chief Executive Post, creation of a prime minister post with three deputies, devolving powers from the centre and changes in the government structure had widened the ideological gap between the New National Front’s members and members of the Grand Alliance.
Shaida Abdali, another presidential hopeful, said the Constitution allowed only two deputies to the president and if there was a plan for amendment in the Constitution, the people of Afghanistan should be asked in this regard.
He said the Constitution authorized the President to choose two deputies but if some parties and alliances wanted more deputies and a prime minister post, something they could do only by amending the Constitution.
When asked about the continuation of the Chief Executive Post, he said their electoral team would be formed based on the existing Constitution and no plan in violation to the supreme law would be made.
Another presidential hopeful Mohammad Hanif Atmar said: “Every step we take would be central to the national unity. The people noticed our performance in the past and they know us better and would trust our strategies and ideas,” he said.
Referring to the change in government structure offered by the Jamiat-i-Islami Afghanistan (JIA), he said he supported the creation of a prime minister post. “I believe the JIA has strong reasons for the change in the government structure and it should be brought under consideration.”
Meanwhile, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of the Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), they would introduce a joint president candidate with other political parties and movements.
He said the HIA had already contacted all presidential hopefuls and their joint teams known as MAISAM would decide about a joint candidate.
MAISAM is a Pashto acronym used for a grand gathering of National Unity.
Incepted two months back to work for introducing a joint candidate, MAISAM is comprised of HIA and other political parties and figures.
The HIA is against the Chief Executive Post in future and insists any change to the system should be brought through constitutional amendment.
The HIA has also sent a message to the Taliban to be part of MAISAM for upcoming presidential election and their response for a meeting in a third country is awaited.
Election oversight institutes
However, election oversight commissions, political experts and the IEC have termed the CEO position in the presidential election in conflict with the country’s Constitution.
According to the Constitution, a presidential election ticket is comprised of one candidate and two deputies and only a ticket of three individuals has the right to run for presidential poll.
Yousuf Rashid, executive chief of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), said if a group included the CEO position in its presidential election ticket, it would be against the law.
Pointing to the national unity government and creation of the CEO post, he said, “The IEC in 2014 was unable to announce clear result of the presidential elections, and the country was moving towards a crisis and that was the reason the international community intervened and created the national unity government.”
“The unity government was also not able to hold Wolesi Jirga and district council elections and pave the way for a Loya Jirga to amend the Constitution.”
He said election tickets promised the CEO post in order to attract more supporters and division of seats, but it was not a solution. “It is a clear violation of the Constitution”, he said.
“Unfortunately the IEC is split and it has never made a good decision, if the commission is really a responsible organ, it should release a statement and make it clear any move in conflict of the law would not be acceptable, but unfortunately it the election commission only watches and wait for orders from others,” Rashid said.
Political experts
Shahla Farid, a political science lecturer at Kabul University, said, “The government had promised to hold a Loya Jirga and make the CEO position legal, but unfortunately it did not happen.”
About election tickets that include the CEO position, she said if a Loya Jirga was held and the CEO position was made legal, then election tickets could include the position but now it was against the law.
IEC
The IEC says based on the election law, an election ticket for presidential polls should have one candidate and two deputies and a candidate with three deputies also has the right to run for president.
The commission says it would act according to the law.
According to the IEC, the next presidential elections would be held on April 14 in 2019.
President Ashraf Ghani, former national security advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar, ex-ambassador to India Shaida Abdali and lawmaker Abdul Latif Pedram have already announced to their intention to stand in the 2019 presidential election.
A number of prominent political figures have resigned their government positions to form their election tickets or support another ticket.
Mohammad Hanif Atmar, National Security Advisor, Eklil Hakimi, finance minister, Hekmat Khalil Karzai, deputy foreign minister, Sayed Sadat Mansor Naderi, urban development minister, Abdul Hakim Norzai, deputy National Security Advisor, Mohammad Omar Zakhliwal, Afghan envoy to Pakistan and Mohammad Shaida Abdali, Afghan envoy to India have so far resigned from their positions.
Establishment of the national unity government
After the first round of 2014 presidential election produced no clear winner, the ballot went to a run-off between then leading candidates Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.
But the second round turned seriously divisive and led to the intervention of former US secretary of state John Kerry.
Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah later signed an agreement based on which the CEO post was created and the position was expected to be changed to a Prime Minister position through a Loya Jirga meeting within two years of the government.
However, the responsibilities of the CEO are still unclear as the government five-year term is going to end in five months.
Some people believe the president avoided to hold a Loya Jirga because it could lower his authority if the CEO position was changed to a Prime Minister. (Pajhwok)