Lawmakers in Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament) on Monday accused the nation’s First Lady Rula Ghani of trying to interfere in the work of the legislative body.
Recently, Rula Ghani said that the parliament floor has changed into a trading ground for votes. She said that whether the MPs want it or nor, the ministerial nominees who were rejected by MPs will continue their jobs.
The MPs said that Rula Ghani’s rhetoric against parliament is unacceptable.
“Who are you to insult this nation? On behalf of this nation, from this forum I want to say that you are ignorant,” said MP Habiburrahman Pedram, referring to Rula Ghani’s statement.
“Afghanistan has witnessed individual, family and ethnic repression. But the Afghan people never witnessed such a shameful government,” said MP Khalid Assad.
Some MPs meanwhile said that Rula Ghani is misusing her authority by attending to official government meetings and interfering in appointments and dismissals.
“Thieves have gathered and are plundering the budget of the nation, the minister who did not secure a vote of confidence is filling his pockets,” said MP Razia Mangal.
“With such statements the people of Afghanistan come to know that the real president is her (Rula Ghani),” said Fazel Karim Emaq, an MP.
“We voted against the minister who does not know Pashto and Farsi,” said Mahdi Rasekh, an MP.
“Tensions create more chaos in the work of the institutions,” said Mohammad Ismail Khan, a member of Jamiat-e-Islami Afghanistan.
“They came in the name of democracy and ruled us, but they are stealing from the same democracy,” said Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
“The First Lady criticized the work of parliament like all other ordinary citizens, her statements were misinterpreted," said Fatima Moorchal, deputy spokesman to President Ashraf Ghani.
Rula Ghani's remarks:
In her interview with Radio Azadi earlier this week, Rula Ghani described the parliament as a vote-trading ground, saying that the acting ministers who were rejected by the parliament will continue their jobs whether the lawmakers want them to continue or not.
Earlier this month, the parliament voted out Rangina Hamidi as minister of Education, with 114 votes in favor, Mujib Rahman Karimi as minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, with 118 votes in favor, and Ajmal Ahmadi, head of the Central Bank, who received 72 votes in favor.
Later, MPs called on the government to introduce three new candidates to fill the cabinet vacancies as soon as possible.
“They (the ministerial nominees) will remain in their posts whether the parliament allows it or not. This indicates that they (MPs) are not familiar with their job,” the First Lady said.
Lawmakers described Rula Ghani’s statement as an insult to the parliament and to democratic values.
Lawmakers said that approving or rejecting ministerial nominees is part of their constitutional authority.
The First Lady also talked about the country’s political situation and said the establishment of an interim government is not in accordance with the constitution of Afghanistan.
“It’s a dictatorial approach, which originates from the same Presidential Palace. Now even his wife (First Lady Rula Ghani) makes such remarks despite her not having any legal position,” said Sayed Eshaq Gailani, the chairman of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.
“We are damaging the democracy from the inside,” said Shahzada Massoud, a political analyst.
Rula Ghani defended President Ashraf Ghani’s legacy of promoting the rights and status of women in the country, but activists said the women’s situation has deteriorated over the last five years.
“The women’s situation has worsened,” said Fazila Hoorzad, a women’s rights activist.