Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday officially opened parliament’s 8th working year after MPs broke for a 45 day winter recess.
The opening ceremony was attended by high-ranking officials, including CEO Abdullah Abdullah, Jihadi leaders, ministers, and MPs among others.
Speaking at the ceremony Ghani said the National Assembly has finalized nearly 300 laws in cooperation with government in the past three years.
“Nearly 300 laws and legislative documents were approved by parliament and government over the last three years which is a major achievement in the country,” Ghani said.
Ghani also said that public confidence in the judicial institutions has improved.
“If the judiciary's decisions are fair, social conflicts have disappeared and so far, our judiciary organizations have received social trust through their fair reforms,” Ghani said.
Meanwhile, Ghani said Afghanistan wants to raise its domestic revenue to $8 billion USD annually but that this is currently at $2.2 billion USD. He said most of the country’s expenditure is being covered by foreign donor countries – including the cost of security forces.
The country can become economically self-sufficient, but we need to generate at least $8 billion USD to do this, Ghani said.
Ghani once again called on the Taliban to solve current issues and differences through peace talks.
“I call on Taliban, the will of Afghanistan and Islam is to come and hold peace talks so through peace talks we can pave the way forward to solve problems and differences without shedding blood and causing destruction,” Ghani said.
“Terrorist groups will resort to a variety of ways to hurt the process,” Ghani added.
The president also said there is no choice but to strengthen the security and defense institutions of the country in order to achieve sustainable security in the country.
“To overcome the forty-year crisis, we need to train, equip, professionalize forces in the country. Without it, a sustainable future for the country will be difficult,” Ghani said.
Ghani also said the implementation of the four-year security plan will soon show results and that within two years Afghanistan will have a stronger security force.
“The four-year security plan is in the process of being implemented, we will see actual results in 1397 (next solar year), and in 1398 we will see greater and stronger defense and security forces,” Ghani said.
Ghani went on to say that once the new security plan has been fully implemented, Afghanistan will start experiencing security.
Ghani also raised the issue of elections and said these need to be held as scheduled and that in doing its work, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) needs to remain neutral and immune to political interference.
“The holding of parliamentary and presidential elections at the given time is inevitable,” Ghani said.
Ghani also promised to help prevent any interference in the electoral commission.
“To avoid any misunderstanding in the internal affairs of the commission, myself, Dr. Abdullah and Sarwar Danish, have avoided any individual visits to the electoral commissions and members,” Ghani said.
Based on the constitution, the tenure of the House of Representatives ended on June 22, 2015, and parliamentary elections should have been held within sixty days after the completion of the term.
However, this has not happened but the IEC has scheduled elections for July 7 this year.