Recent remarks by First Lady Rula Ghani about ministerial nominees who could not get a vote of confidence from the parliament have triggered a backlash among lawmakers who called the statement an insult to the Wolesi Jirga.
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 their jobs 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 the democratic values.
Lawmakers said that approving or rejecting ministerial nominees is part of their constitutional authority.
“This is a clear disrespect of the Constitution,” said MP Fakoor Beheshti.
The parliament has also warned that if the government does not abide by the decisions of the MPs, the acting ministers and acting chiefs will be referred to the Attorney General’s Office over ignoring the parliament’s decision.
“Rula (Ghani) has no political role. This statement is totally wrong,” said MP Nazir Ahmad Hanafi.
“She shouldn’t have such statements that are against the parliament and lawmakers,” said Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, the deputy speaker of the senate.
The first lady also talked about the country’s political situation and said the establishment of an interim government contrasts 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 that she does not have 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.
The first lady defended President Ashraf Ghani’s legacy of promoting the rights and status of women in the country, but activists said women’s situation has deteriorated over the last five years.
“Women’s situation has worsened,” said Fazila Hoorzad, a women’s rights activist.