President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday decreed seven suggestions of the Electoral Reform Commission and called for urgent measures to provide legal cover for the proposals approved.
Following month-long discussions with different segments of society, the electoral reform commission submitted its first set of suggestions last week to the president.
In his decree, President Ghani praised the performance of the panel, and approved their suggestions for short-term reforms, a statement from the Presidential Palace said.
The president also directed the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Administrative Affairs to take urgent measures to provide legal framework for the seven suggestions.
A cabinet member told Pajhwok Afghan News the president decreed the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth suggestions of the reform panel.
In these suggestions, the source said, voter lists, accountability of the election commissions, the presence of two foreigners on the complaints commission, a reserved seat for Hindus and Sikhs in Wolesi Jirga, distribution of electronic ID cards, dissolving of the current voter cards, and increasing women’s representation in provincial councils and district councils to 25 percent.
In the decree, the president directed the special reforms panel to scrutinise all the legal, technical and practical aspects of their suggestions and present their detailed proposals to the chief executive’s office (CEO).
A member of the panel, wishing to go unnamed, told Pajhwok Afghan News the three suggestions (first, second, eighth) that the president did not include in his decree, included changes to the electoral system, making some constituencies smaller and formation of a transparency commission.
He added the president directed the reform panel to present the technical and practical details of these suggestions to the government during the remaining four and a half months term of the Wolesi Jirga. After the Wolesi Jirga’s recess, he said, the president could issue another decree.
In the decree, the president has also directed that the date for parliamentary and district council elections should be scheduled at a time when the chance for implementation of the reforms commission existed.
According to the source, the president asked the IEC to set dates for the WJ elections during the ongoing solar year.
The presidential decree was being issued at a time when the lower house is about to return from the summer break. The house will hold its first general session on Monday.
Earlier, President Ghani praised the performance of the ERC members and urged them to help specify dates for holding the delayed elections to the Wolesi Jirga or lower house.
Second Vice-President Sarwar Danish and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah also attended the meeting in which the ERC members briefed President Ghani about their work and challenges they faced.
Acknowledging the panel’s effort, the president said the commission had reached out to important issues in the electoral system in a short time and the effort would strengthen the country’s democratic system.
Some of the major suggestions call for registration of voters, making the election bodies accountable, the presence of two foreigners in the Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC), reservation of one seat at the Wolesi Jirga for Hindu minority, identification and shrinking of the constituencies.
The panel chief, during a special meeting of the Cabinet held last night with President Ghani in the chair, presented detail information about the suggestions.
The Cabinet tasked the Ministry of Justice and the Directorate of the Administrative Affairs at the Presidential Palace to provide legal framework for the implementation of the ERC suggestions.
The ERC was also told to look after the legal, technical issues of its suggestions and update the Presidential Palace through Chief Executive Office (CEO) Office about the implementation of the approved suggestions.
Later the justice minister briefed the Cabinet about the amended draft of the election law.
Following amended articles, sections and clauses of the law were presented to the Cabinet.
•Section two of the article three.
•Eight and six clauses of article four.
•Section six, clause three of article seven
•Clauses 2 of article 10 and article 21
•Section 2 of article 30
•Section 2 of Article 44, 57
•And addition in articles 10, 32, 45,79
Later, the Cabinet was briefed about the draft that explains the powers of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC) heads and the cabinet approved the draft in five chapters and 26 articles.
In addition the justice minister presented the amended version of the civil servant law in which clause one, section three of articles 10, 11, clause two, section one of the 28 were approved.
Earlier, the election watchdogs had welcomed the ERC suggestions, but cautioned their implementation not be hard in the current circumstances.