Jihadis Boycott Committee Work

Jihadis Boycott Committee Work

The current draft of the constitution creates a strong presidential system, but the jihadis favour a parliamentary one.

The group says they want the type of government to be decided by the entire Loya Jirga before the rest of the constitution is debated by committees.

Hafiz Mansoor, the leader of the boycott and editor of Payam-e-Mujahed, a jihadi newspaper, has been outspoken in his criticism of President Karzai. Mansoor was an unsuccessful candidate for chair of the Loya Jirga.

The group also protested that there are too many Pashtuns in the Loya Jirga leadership. Most of the boycotters belong to the Jamiat-e-Islami party, which is dominated by Tajiks.

The leaders of the protest, numbering about 25, are not attending the sessions of the 10 committees, which are discussing the constitution one chapter at a time. The first and second chapters were discussed Thursday and Friday.

Waqef Hakimi, editor of Mujahed Weekly, told IWPR, "We have two demands. First, that there should be a decision made on the system of government [by the whole Loya Jirga], and secondly, that for the leadership of the Loya Jirga no consideration was given to the ethnicity. In the leadership of Loya Jirga and the leadership of committees, the number of Pashtuns is greater than other ethnic groups."

Hakimi added that they have submitted a letter to UNAMA that includes the list of boycotters and their demands.

David Singh, press officer for UNAMA, said Friday his office had not received the letter or list of the boycotters yet. But Hakimi insisted that it has been submitted and accused UNAMA of trying to cover up the protest.

Mansoor and his group want the entire Loya Jirga to deal with the system of government first because if it's changed from presidential it will have numerous affects on the constitution. They say that question should be settled first, before the committees do their work.

Faroq Wardak, head of the secretariat of Constitutional Commission, said that the work of the committees is going normally. He said it doesn't matter if two or three people don't agree with the system.

Mirwais Yaseni, one of the four deputy chairs for the Loya Jirga, disagreed with Hakimi's statement about the choice of leaders by ethnicity.

"In fact, the election for the leadership was a democratic process and if they disagree with this process, it's surprising," he told IWPR.

He pointed out that Burhanuddin Rabbani, Asef Muhsini, Dr Mushahed and other committee chairs are not Pashtuns, and that of 20 committee secretaries there are only two are members of this group.

However, three of the four deputy chairs of the Loya Jirga are Pashtun.

Safia Siddiqi, a female deputy chair, said she represents all of Afghanistan, not just Pashtuns, "I got 85 votes that were mostly from the brothers [men], from different ethnic groups."

She said the objections of the boycotters are wrong, because most of the committee secretaries are not Pashtuns. She also added that the heads of committees were elected by the delegates themselves.

Traditionally a Loya Jirga is not considered legitimate if the opposition does not participate.

Rahimullah Samander is an IWPR editor/reporter.

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