Afghan Legislators Approve New Election Law

Afghanistan, Election Ballots, 2010.

Afghan legislators on Monday approved a law to govern next year's presidential and provincial council elections, a key step toward conducting the polls.

The law still needs to be signed by President Hamid Karzai. Another law regulating the responsibilities of the electoral management bodies was passed over the weekend. Karzai also needs to sign off on that one. It was not known when Karzai would act.

The law was approved by a joint parliamentary commission of 14 deputies from the upper and lower houses of parliament.

According to the approved law, the previous 25 percent reservation for women in the Provincial Councils has been reduced to 20 percent, the single seat reserved for the Sikhs of Afghanistan has been discarded and 10 seats have been reserved for the Kuchis.

"Although, 20 percent reservation for women in the Provincial Councils is not sufficient but, it is a positive move towards ensuring women's contribution in the political arena," responded Ms. Fawzia Kofi, a MP from the Badakshan province.

Earlier, according to a Legislative Decree, 25 percent seats were reserved for women in the Provincial Councils which has been reduced to 20 percent.

"The law directly will go to the president for approval," Shah Gul Rezayee, a deputy from Ghazni, said. "Both houses of the parliament gave their authorization to the joint commission, and the commission decision is final and acceptable by both houses of the parliament."

If endorsed by Karzai, completion of the two laws would clear the way for the elections on April 5 next year.

The electoral law defines the legal framework for the elections, while the structural measure governs the independent electoral commission and the appointment of its senior officials.

Karzai, whose second five-year term ends next year, is not allowed by law to seek a third.

The parliament has been debating the laws for several months. Their implementation is considered key for ensuring transparent and fair polls.

After the approval of the structural law, the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan urged Karzai to quickly endorse and enact the legislation.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement that is reiterates its strong support for holding the Presidential and Provincial Council elections on time, on 5 April 2014, and in accordance with the Afghan Constitution.

Afghanistan's international backers said that a smooth political transition during the presidential elections is necessary to ensure the country's future stability once all foreign combat troops leave by the end of 2014.


Based on reporting by Khaama Press, AP and Tolo News.

Photo by United States Government Work.

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