Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

The Vulnerability of Democracy in Afghanistan

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The Vulnerability of Democracy in Afghanistan

In democratic systems, separation of powers is highly crucial and it was first discussed in 1301, Afghan calendar, in the constitution approved by King Amanullah Khan. In the current constitution, interaction of powers is more prominent and the president, who is both head of state and executive power, is bestowed high authorities.
Article 60 of Afghan Constitution says, “The President shall be the head of state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, executing his authorities in the executive, legislative and judiciary fields in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.” Both the president and members of National Assembly will be elected through free, general, secret, and direct voting. In presidential system, president is also the head of executive power.
In Afghanistan, the executive power and legislative power are supposed to be in close interaction. For example, one third of members of provincial council will be appointed by the president for a 5-year term, the law will be endorsed by president after being approved by National Assembly, extraordinary sessions of the Assembly during recess will be convened by presidential order, etc. On the other hand, the National Assembly which is the beating heart of democracy does not necessarily approve law but also supervise the function of executive power. The House of People is also able to impeach and incapacitate the ministers. These issues point out the interaction of executive power – which is run by president – and legislative power.
Constitutionally, “The Government shall be comprised of Ministers who work under the chairmanship of the President”. President appoints the ministers with the endorsement of National Assembly. To view the interaction of executive and judiciary powers, the president has the authority of appointing the Justice of the Supreme Court and appointing, retiring and accepting the resignation and dismissal of judges, reducing and pardoning penalties in accordance with the provisions of the law, etc.
Although National Assembly is “the highest legislative organ”, laws will be endorsed by president. Hence, both legislative and executive powers have role in approving laws. The government can also issue judicial decree, which has the nature of law. Considering the above issues, one will conclude that bestowing much authority to the government will put the separation of the law or independence of all three powers under question.
The post of executive officer which was established on the basis of 2014 agreement between President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, is not stated in the Constitution. Therefore, the agreement said that Loyal Jirga (Grand National Assembly) would be convened in 2016 to reform the constitution and create the post of executive officer on the basis of law.
Before convening Loya Jirga, it is said in the agreement that the post of executive officer is established based on article 50 of Constitution, article 2 of common declaration, and President’s order. According to agreement, a commission would be formed for preparing a draft to reform the constitution and legitimize the post of CEO. But it did not happen and Loya Jirga was not convened last year. Moreover, article 50 of Constitution says nothing about the post of executive officer but says that “the state shall adopt necessary measures to create a healthy administration and realize reforms in the administrative system of the country.” Perhaps it has been interpreted that the government has the authority to form executive post to create a healthy administration.
The post of executive officer does not only lack legal basis, but it is also very ambiguous. It is said in the agreement, “The government’s executive officer, with the tasks of executive prime minister, is determined based on the proposal of second candidate and president’ agreement. The executive officer is responsible to the president”. To ponder over this article of agreement, CEO is a de facto leader with symbolic post. Similar to ministers, he is responsible to the president rather than being the head of cabinet. His authorities are not clear enough. Creating executive post is the violation of Constitution and refusing to convene Loya Jirga in 2016 was violation of the mutual agreement signed by President and CEO.
Since the executive power is run by two leaders and created ambiguity, a sense of conflict was triggered between officials. Therefore, a number of political officials, including the former President Hamid Karzai, call for convening Loya Jirga – which is refused by the government.
To sum up, the authority of executive power is more prominent than legislative and judicial powers and head of state executes “his authorities in the executive, legislative and judiciary fields”. In such a case, dividing power is not balanced. Meanwhile, designating executive post is not supported by Constitution and law is neither practiced upon nor implemented thoroughly. These are blow to democracy.  

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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