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Disqualified WJ runners holding key posts

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21 Dec 2020 - 13:17
author avatar
21 Dec 2020 - 13:17

KABUL (Pajhwok): Political observers want the government to explain why some individuals, whose names have been removed from the list of Wolesi Jirga candidates over allegations of crimes, have been appointed to key positions.

In 2018, the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) had dropped from the list of parliamentary election runners 35 individuals accused of leading or belonging to illegal armed groups and involvement unlawful activities.

The disqualified candidates then staged demonstrations, calling the decision politically-motivated. The vehemently denied having illegal gunmen or involvement in crimes.

However, since the formation of the new government in March 2020, at least eight of the rejected candidates have been appointed to important government positions.

The eight individuals include five former Wolesi Jirga members Fawzia Kofi, Asadullah Sharifi, Liaqat Babakarkhel, Mohammad Akbar Stanikzai, Masuma Khawari), Javed Zaman, Ziaul Haq Amerkhel and Ghulam Haidar Jilani.

Kofi is currently a member of the government’s peace-negotiating team, while Sharifi, Babakarkhel and Stanikzai have been named as senators.

Masuma Khawari is serving as minister of information technology, Jilani as deputy minister of works and public affairs, Amarkhel as senior advisor to the president and Javed Zaman also as Ghani’s advisor.

Pajhwok asked all the eight individuals about their removal from the list of candidates and their re-appointment, but they declined commenting.

Qais Hassan, a former Kabul MP and one of the rejected Wolesi Jirga candidates, claimed a number of contenders had been removed from the list in a biased way

Qais added, despite his appeals, he had not been informed of any complaint or crime that led to his disqualification.

“Now that the government has appointed several of the disqualified poll runners to attractive posts, it must tell the nation why they were disqualified,” he demanded.

He went on to ask if the rejected candidates were really accused of crimes, why they were not dragged to courts and if they had not committed any crime, why they were removed from the list of election contenders.

When contacted by Pajhwok, IECC member Mohammad Qasim Ilyasi and the two spokespersons for the panel refused to provide any information on the charges against the candidates.

An illegal decision

Yousuf Rashid, executive director of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA), called the decision of the IECC non-transparent.

Based on the conditions set out in the election law, the decision on disqualifying the candidates had to be made in accordance with the court ruling.

He insisted by doing so, the IECC had trampled on the rights of the poll contestants and the government should have appointed a number of them as compensation.

Rashid added, “We raised our voice at the time, even the disqualified runner went to the commission; but there was no one to answer the question why they were removed from the list.”

About the candidates’ disqualification, lawyer Gul Rahman Qazi said: “This act of the government is illegal. Whatever the government did later was in its own interest and for its own survival.”

He opined if these people had been found guilty, a court should have been approached to decide on charges against the candidates. The government should have appointed them to high positions following a verdict.

He claimed that the incumbent government, having taken the nation hostage, was doing everything in its own interest.

In a statement, the Presidential Palace said: “The national unity government has always been committed to transparent, fair and timely elections. The government has die respect for the autonomy of IEC and IECC.”

Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqi told Pajhwok: “We respect the judiciary and its independence and don’t interfere in its affairs.”

sa/mud

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