Writer: Muhammad Arif Sheva
22 Apr 2019

Supreme Court Protracts Ghani Tenure until Elections

The Supreme Court of Afghanistan has approved the extension of President Ashraf Ghani's tenure until the upcoming presidential elections scheduled on September 28, beating his ending term date in May.

Based on the Constitution, Ghani's tenure ends on May 22, but the presidential elections are set on September 28 after two times postponement.

In a bid to fill up power gap, the Presidential Palace (also ARG) sought to maintain its authority until the upcoming presidential elections that will determine the future of Afghan government, while facing a widespread criticism by a huge number of presidential candidates.

The Supreme Courts interpreted the constitutions otherwise, stretching President Ghani's tenure until the 2019 elections.

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"In line with the provision of the law and with the consideration of the situation of the country and based on the jurisprudential rules, the tenure of the president and his deputies is endorsed until the presidential elections," the Supreme Court said in a directive, as quoted by local media.

A number of presidential candidates described the court's decision in defiance to the spirit of the law and accuse the president of "suppressing" democracy.

"It is completely a political decision. It is a decision which was taken on the demand of the Afghan government," said Faramarz Tamanna, a presidential candidate.

[Earlier: '2019 Elections: ARG after Interpretations of Constitution']

A group of 11 presidential candidates – out of 18 in total – are seeking an alternative to the National Unity Government, after its legal term ends in last week of May.

Based on Article 61 of the Constitution, government term will end on May 22, but the upcoming presidential elections are due on September 28 – a paradox.

"The presidential term shall expire on 1st of Jawza [equal to May 22] of the fifth year after elections. Elections for the new President shall be held within thirty to sixty days prior to the end of the presidential term," stated on the Afghan constitution.

A presidential candidate Noorulhaq Ulumi said they are trying to prevent a power gap, urging President Ashraf Ghani to give up seat soon after his legal term draws an end.

"In one word I want to say that we as the presidential candidates have reached the conclusion that the incumbent government's term will end," said Ulumi. "In our decision, we have considered the issues of national interests, crisis prevention and political and legal issue," local media quoted.

The candidates see the constitution as guideline, better yet, solution to any challenge or dead-end the country might face at crucial times.

"Our indicators for dismissal should be articles 67 and 68 of the Constitution, said another presidential candidate Faramarz Tamanna. "As the government's legal term end, the president [Ashraf Ghani] and his deputies should be dismissed from power."

Meanwhile, Deputy Spokesman for the President Shahussain Murtazawi said Saturday that the National Unity Government has got another six months and its term will not end on May 22.

"The same problem was created in 2009 and 2014, but the problems were resolved through the interpretation of the Constitution and through the channels that interpret the Constitution. Meanwhile, six months has remained until the completion of government's five years," he said.

President Ghani in many occasions has reiterated he will not stay in power after his term officially ends, but the ongoing controversies say otherwise.

The National Unity Government was initially formed in 2014 after controversial elections which left the two leading candidates – President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah – with disagreements over alleged fraud in the polls, local media reported.

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