News / Asia

Afghan Parliament Still Finding Its Voice in the Midst of an Insurgency

TEXT SIZE - +
Gary Thomas

The parliament of Afghanistan, for which voters cast their ballots Saturday, is a product of the international conference that laid out the foundations for a new post-Taliban system. Nine years after that conference in Bonn, Germany, the Afghan parliament is still very much a work in progress.

Under the outline of the Bonn Agreement, the Afghan parliament is designed to be a co-equal in the triad of a new democratic government, along with executive and judicial branches.  But U.S. Army War College professor Larry Goodson says most power still rests with President Hamid Karzai.

"I do think that parliament is beginning to develop, as an institution, some ability to push back against the executive, but it's still very much a weak sister.  I still think it's very much an executive-dominated political system," he said.

In January, parliament did push back by refusing to ratify 17 of President Karzai's ministerial appointments.  Former European Union Special Representative to Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell says the president is hoping to get a more friendly legislature this time around. "Some people think that President Karzai will manage through fraud to obtain a pliant parliament.  I suspect he would like to get a more pliant parliament than he has now.  But it's not going to be as easy as all that," he said.

The reason that may prove difficult, say analysts, is because there are no organized political parties in Afghanistan that field slates of candidates in multiple constituencies.  There are some parties, but they are primarily vehicles for a single individual.  So there is no party discipline allowing the president to corral votes.

Instead, says Larry Goodson, political alliances are made not along party lines but ethnic ones. "Parliament has proven to be a place where Tajik and Uzbek and Hazara and other folks that don't come from Karzai's Pashtun ethnic group can oppose things and gain credit with their ethnic supporters, that they're opposing things that Karzai, a Pashtun, is pushing forward," he said.

Francesc Vendrell says parliament is still finding its voice in the midst of an insurgency. "I think it was far from being a perfect parliament, and a lot of money was being exchanged to buy votes by one faction or another one.  But, it was the beginnings.  And I still think that they deserve support," said Vendrell.

Vendrell, who participated in the 2001 Bonn Conference and still talks with many diplomats, believes that many Western countries do not to consider the parliamentary polls all that important.

"Western governments do not care whether these elections are fair or not.  They have already given up on the idea that Afghanistan should have credible elections.  And since they are this time for parliament and not for the presidency, I don't think that you have too many governments - at least in the West and I suppose elsewhere - looking too carefully as to how these elections are conducted," he said.

But the Army War College's Larry Goodson says that if they don't, they should. "It's critical for U.S. strategy because the U.S. strategy is based on producing a better, more legitimate government that it can begin to more effectively turn things over to in preparation for the withdrawal that has been planned and announced starting in the summer of next year," he said.

The U.S. and its allies have criticized the Karzai government for corruption, which, analysts say, has damaged the president's credibility.  And the last parliamentary elections in 2005 and last year's presidential election that gave President Karzai a second term were both marred by charges of widespread electoral fraud.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid