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Kuchi Mps Elders Warn of Election Boycott

Kuchi MPs, elders warn of election boycott

KABUL – Kuchi lawmakers and elders on Tuesday warned of boycotting next year’s presidential and provincial council elections if Afghanistan was divided into several constituencies for the nomadic tribe. Instead of the entire country being declared one constituency for the tribe, the Wolesi Jirga on Saturday decided 10 polling zones would be set up for the Kuchis in the next parliamentary elections — a move that drew criticism from some lawmakers.

A draft election law, having 17 chapters and 67 articles, was referred for approval to the Wolesi Jirga — or lower house of parliament — in December 2012. Clause 6 of Article 7 proposes Kuchi across the country be allowed to vote for their candidates anywhere in Afghanistan. But the assembly rejected the proposal. Legislative Commission head Qazi Ahmad Hanafi said there would be 10 polling zones for the Kuchis.

Members of the Wolesi Jirga’s Kuchi Commission held a meeting in Kabul, denouncing the decision as unfair. They said it was their collective decision to boycott the upcoming presidential elections if the decision was not revoked. Haji Nazir Ahmadzai, who heads the commission, said Kuchi leaders insist on Afghanistan staying an undivided constituency for the tribe. He warned if their demand went unmet, they would not vote in presidential and provincial council elections.

With reference to the Wolesi Jirga’s move, Ahmadzai said: “That decision is unfair. If Afghanistan is divided into many constituencies for Kuchis, other tribes should also be treated in the same way. ” The lawmaker said the Kuchis would not be able to cast their votes because they changed places in summers and winters, calling on President Karzai and the Meshrano Jirga, upper house, not to approve the provision.

Kuchi elders, who attended the meeting, also differed with the decision. One of them was Haji Ghulam Jan, who said the entire tribe was supportive of its representatives’ opposition to the decision. He warned of nationwide protests and closure of highways on elections day if their demand was ignored.

Another elder, Haji Faiz Mohammad Sahak, demanded seven Kuchi tribesmen be named as governors and three as ministers, keeping in view their population. According to a 2004 assessment, that there are about 2.4 million Kuchis in Afghanistan, with 1.5 million (60 percent) remaining fully nomadic, and over 100,000 displaced due to natural disasters such as floods and drought in the past few years. (PAN)

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