KABUL (SW) – In an exclusive interview with Salam Watandar, Atta Mohammad Dehqanpur, interim speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (lower house) shed light on the messy polls for the new speaker in the house.
Here is the transcript for the interview:
Q: What went through the polls for a new speaker at the Wolesi Jirga?
Dehqanpur: In the first round of election for the speaker, a total of four candidates were running, but Mir Rehman Rehmani and Kamal Nasir Osoli got more votes than others and entered second round. In the second round, Kamal Nasir Osolo got 55 votes and Mir Rehman Rehmani got 124 votes, but one vote casted for Mr. Rehmani was declared void.
Secretary of the house initially announced 247 members present in the house, but when voting ended and I got the report 244 members had casted votes and three votes were missing, which spoiled the environment in the house and I could not control it. Some members demanded the results to be announced while others demanded the fate of the three missing votes should be determined first.
Ultimately, I considered the number of 244 present members as the standard in line with the Article 71 of the House Rules, but when the archives were searched again it proved 246 votes have been casted, and the winner should have obtained at least 124 votes.
Q: What is the due procedure for the election of interim speaker, deputy speaker and secretary? And, why the secretary did not submit the correct report to you in the first place?
Dehqanpur: Unfortunately, no merit and capabilities are considered for the election of interim speaker, deputy speaker and secretary. The only standard is that the oldest member of the house is elected as the interim speaker and the youngests are elected as deputy speaker and secretary. And, why the secretary did not submitted the correct report to me in the first place, he should be asked.
Q: Did horse-trading take place on the house floor during the elections in the Wolesi Jirga? Did you witness distribution of money?
Dehqanpur: This is possible, and I do not reject it. I was not content with the voting process, because I saw MPs use mobile phones during the voting, and they used to take pictures of the ballot paper after casting their vote.
Q: The opponents of Mr. Rehmani and supporters of Mr. Osoli have charged you for taking bribe by naming Mr. Rehmani as the winner of the polls. What would you like to say about this?
Dehqanpur: Yes, it is true they levelled these allegations against me. If they have proof, they should present it and I would be ready to defend myself.
Q: Disputes are still persisting over the speaker’s seat. Do you still consider Mr. Rehmani as winner of this seat?
Dehqanpur: I declared Mr. Rehmani as the winner after seeing 244 votes in the voting boxes and in line with the internal rules of the house. Now, since it has been proved that a total of 246 votes are casted, hence in line with the principle of the minimum of 50+ votes, I do not consider Mr. Rehmani as the winner.
Q: How do you assess the future of the parliament considering these glitches with the election for the speaker?
Dehqanpur: We have rules and regulations for all issues. As long as we do not approve of these rules and regulations, the problems would be persisting. Whatever the internal house rules demand should be enforced. If these rules declare Mr. Rehmani as the winner he should be declared as one, but if these rules do not consider him as the winner, he is not the winner.
Q: It is said you are not vising the Wolesi Jirga these days, are there any threats?
Dehqanpur: Yes, threats are there. And, I did not attend one session because I am tired of the prejudices among the MPs. One day, they said bad things to me and the other day they were seeking pardon. I was present in the house on other days.
Q: Those women MPs who had gathered around the speaker’s chair on the voting day, what were they demanding?
Dehqanpur: They occupied the speaker’s chair on the day when the total votes casted were counted to be 244, and they prevented Mr. Rehmani from grabbing the seat of the speaker. But, later when it turned out that the total votes casted were 246, their move proved to be a just one.
Q: You served as interim speaker of the Wolesi Jirga for a short period. In this short period, can you assess if the Arg (Presidency) has any influence over the house?
Dehqanpur: No, the Arg has no representation among the Wolesi Jirga members, and this fact is open that the Arg has not interfered in this process.