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The Killid Group
The controversial parliamentWritten by Killid commentary
Sunday, 23 January 2011 11:03
After months of controversies about massive fraud and rigging in the 2010 parliamentary elections, President Hamid Karzai is expected to inaugurate the new National Assembly, as it is called in Afghanistan, on 23 January. The President's Office has said Mr. Karzai will travel to Moscow on 20 January for a series of talks with Russian officials prompting some analysts to predict that the parliament inauguration could be delayed.
Meanwhile, hundreds of disgruntled parliamentary candidates have threatened that they and their supporters will organize large-scale protests and will block major highways on the inauguration day. They say, any inauguration of the new parliament before the Special Election Court announces its final verdict will be premature and illegal. On the other hand, the winning candidates and the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) have questioned the very legitimacy of the Special Election Court and have preemptively rejected the court's ruling.
The Attorney General, Ishaq Aloko, has said his office has received over 4,500 complaints about last year's parliamentary election and has therefore called the election results as "invalid". Mr. Aloko has also said that criminal cases related to the 2010 parliamentary election could even be prosecuted against the MPs after the inauguration. "We have a particular position in this case and we have collected documents. Our final decision is to allow the Special Election Court do its job. In our opinion this election lacks legitimacy and thus we are prosecuting it."
Amidst all the controversies, the secretariat of the National Assembly has been conducting orientation classes for new members of the parliament in which MPs from some European and African countries have participated. This sounds alarming for the discontented candidates because if the election was to be annulled, the secretariat would not have been spending money to orient the new MPs.
Eyes are now focused at the Special Election Court which some analysts believe would not adopt a confrontational position by voiding the entire election results but could advise specific corrections in some areas. Afghanistan would not be able to afford conducting another round of elections, particularly due to financial and security restrictions. The international donor community including the United Nations, the European Union and the United States of America has already endorsed the election results.
Given the low turnout of voters in last year's parliamentary election it would be wise to suggest that the candidates, particularly the disgruntled, do not have vast popular support basis. Therefore, protests by some disgruntled candidates are not likely to culminate into massive social and political unrest.
As for Mr. Aloko, his job gives him the authority to question the election results but does not allow him to stop the inauguration and work of the new parliament. The winning candidates have demonstrated their strong resolve in starting their work soon, regardless of the Special Election Court's work and even if the President does not show up for the inauguration. It seems that stopping it could be more problematic with potential social and security risks than inaugurating it at the cost of dissatisfaction among the losing candidates.