The speaker of Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament) Mir Rahman Rahmani, said that it would have been better if the government had called an extraordinary session of the parliament on the fate of the 400 Taliban prisoners instead of convening the Loya Jirga.
“The government should hold an extraordinary and joint meeting of the National Assembly regarding important issues of national interest including the start of intra-Afghan talks and the exchange of 400 Taliban prisoners,” Rahmani wrote in a Facebook post.
In his post, Rahmani stated that although consulting the people for their views on the national issues was a key principle, he described the Loya Jirga as a violation of the law.
On Wednesday afternoon, a 50-member parliamentary delegation went to the Presidential Palace to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, but the meeting did not take place after officials at the palace said that the president will attend the meeting virtually.
A member of the Afghan parliament on Wednesday said that the parliament members will announce their final decision about whether to participate in the Loya Jirga or not.
“The president had called for the participation of heads of the commissions and heads of parliamentary groups in a direct meeting, and we were expecting a meeting with him at 4:00 pm, but the president did not appear directly at the meeting and preferred to talk with the representatives of the people through video conference. But the meeting ended without any results,” said Sayed Azim Kibrzani, a member of the Afghan parliament.
But, the Presidential Palace in a statement said that the speaker of parliament had supported the government’s plan for the Loya Jirga.
“A parliament in a country where there are free discussions---there are debates and criticisms and finally there is a conclusion and harmony---we hope that members of the parliament also take part in this Jirga,” said Masoom Stanekzai, the head of the Loya Jirga organizing committee.
Also on Wednesday, a meeting was convened in the Office of the National Security Council where officials pledged to ensure the security of the Jirga.
The Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan has also supported the Loya Jirga.
“On the specific issue of the consultative Loya Jirga, we support the decision of the government of Afghanistan. The Loya Jirga is the traditional mood of expression of their opinions by the people of Afghanistan. The voice of the people of Afghanistan on the issue of release of terrorists and their expectations from the process would strengthen the Afghan-led, the Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process,” said Vinay Kumar, the Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan.