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Legitimacy of the Loya Jirga

Feature: Legitimacy of the Loya Jirga

Following the peace talks and the release of Taliban prisoners, the Afghan government has decided to hold a Consultative Loya Jirga on the release of the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners in Kabul at a cost of AFN 330 million.
In a message issued on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, President Ashraf Ghani said that the release of 400 Taliban prisoners whom the Afghan government considers to be involved in crimes against humanity is beyond the scope of his authority. He said that in order to release this number of Taliban, it is necessary to refer to the views of the people.
During the five years of the National Unity Government (NUG) and now in the last few months of his new government, the president has undertaken many illegal actions, several examples of which include the issuance of successive legislative decrees, in violation of the constitution, regarding the appointment of caretaker ministers. For the ministries and the continuation of their work against the law for many months, he approved the transfer of money from one budget code to another.
With this decision to hold the Loya Jirga, President Ghani is once again taking an illegal step. Despite the presence of Afghan Parliament which is the highest body that, according to the clear provisions of the constitution, represents the will of the Afghan people and oversees the actions of the government, arranging Loya Jirga challenges its legitimacy. Given that Afghanistan has a parliament and a senate and representatives of the people are present in these two houses, holding such a jirga has no legal legitimacy.
During a meeting with the President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mir Rahman Rahmani, also criticized the holding of an advisory Loya Jirga on the release of 400 Taliban prisoners, calling it against the law. Rahmani said: “When the real representatives of the people are present in the National Assembly, it is illegal to convene any consultative Loya Jirga.”
However, President Ghani does not seem to have given up his opinion as usual. The president’s decision to hand over the release of 400 prisoners to the Consultative Jirga is a ploy to deceive the public, to delay the peace process and to further push the people towards insecurity and instability. The people of Afghanistan already know that the cost of Consultative Jirga will only deprive them of their right to have economic support after the COVID-19 crisis in the country. And, they also realize that their interests are not the point of concern for Ghani administration; rather, it is its own ulterior motives that the administration seeks through this jirga.
The fact is that President Ghani is trying to delay inter-Afghan talks under various pretexts. With the start of intra-Afghan talks and the conclusion of these talks, it is likely that an interim government will be established in the country with the participation of the Taliban. If that happens, there will certainly be a risk of collapse of Ghani’s current position. According to the perspective given by President Ghani, by holding a Loya Jirga, he wants to prolong the peace process until the end of his term, and consulting on the release of 400 Taliban prisoners is an excuse to achieve his personal goal.
The government released thousands of Taliban and non-Taliban fighters without consideration whether they had committed crimes against humanity or not, and now it should not use these 400 Taliban prisoners as an excuse to postpone peace talks. Because the Consultative Jirga and any meeting like that does not have a 100% result, we can wait for peace after that, because there are many possibilities for the success and failure of the Jirga, and its outcome is not predictable at all. In addition to the cost in millions, the Loya Jirga can also create social and political unrest, and can further destabilize the circumstances that should be favorable before intra-Afghan talks.
(Sahar News)

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