News - Afghanistan
With still no progress on electoral reform, and no date yet set for parliamentary elections, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah's First Deputy, Mohammad Khan, spoke out on Friday to criticize what he sees as a lack of political will among the country's leaders.
Implementation of fundamental reforms in Afghanistan's electoral system was one of the central tenets of the national unity government agreement, which brought President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah under the same roof. However, with eight months passed, the leaders have reached an impasse over the formation of a committee to oversee the reform agenda, highlighting their lack of common ground and inability to compromise.
"I am quite concerned about reform in the electoral system," Khan said on Friday. "If there is will, both leaders would be able to form the commission within one hour, they could even address the issue while eating dinner or breakfast," he added.
The delay in pursuing electoral reform has caused a crisis for the parliamentary elections originally scheduled for this year, with many commentators doubtful the elections will take place. Election monitoring groups, political leaders and the international community have rejected the possibility of holding the elections without reform first.
In addition to undermining the government's stability and credibility, the deadlock over reform places lawmakers in Parliament in a precarious position. So long as parliamentary elections are put off, MPs face a dilemma in interpreting the Afghan Constitution - some say they would be permitted to remain in office past their term dates, while others say it would be unconstitutional.
"It would be better that the parliament continue its job until reforms are implemented in the country's electoral system, and also the commission lack's the financial resources to hold the parliamentary poll," MP Munawwar Shah Bahaduri said on Friday. Indeed, international donors recently announced they would withhold funding for the Afghan election commissions until reforms are put in place.