National Assembly (Afghanistan)
The National Assembly (Pashto: ملی شورا Mili Shura, Persian: شورای ملی Shura-e Milli), also known as the Parliament of Afghanistan, or simply as the Afghan Parliament, is the national legislature of Afghanistan. It is a bicameral body, comprising two chambers:
- Meshrano Jirga (Pashto: مشرانوجرګه) or the House of Elders: an upper house with 102 seats.
- Wolesi Jirga (Pashto: ولسي جرګه) or the House of the People: a lower house with 250 seats.
National Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
د افغانستان د اسلامی جمهوري دولت ملي شوری
شورای ملی دولت جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان
|Houses||Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders)|
Wolesi Jirga (House of the People)
Speaker of Wolesi Jirga
Speaker of Meshrano Jirga
Fazel Hadi Muslimyaar
|Seats||352 members (Wolesi Jirga: 249, Meshrano Jirga: 103)|
According to Chapter Five of the Constitution of Afghanistan, "the National Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as the highest legislative organ is the manifestation of the will of its people and represents the whole nation. Every member of the National Assembly takes into judgment the general welfare and supreme interests of all people of Afghanistan at the time of casting their vote".
The National Assembly is located next to the famous Darul Aman Palace in Darulaman, which is the southwestern section of Kabul where many important national institutions are found. The current building for the Assembly was built by the government of India as part of its contribution in the rebuilding of Afghanistan. It was inaugurated in late 2015 by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his guest Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India. The current Parliament was inaugurated on April 26, 2019 after being sworn in by Ghani.
Duties of the National AssemblyEdit
Ratification, modification or abrogation of laws or legislative decrees; Approval of social, cultural, economic as well as technological development programs; Approval of the state budget as well as permission to obtain or grant loans; Creation, modification and or abrogation of administrative units; Ratification of international treaties and agreements, or abrogation of membership of Afghanistan in them; Other authorities enshrined in this Constitution.
The Wolesi Jirga (House of People)Edit
The Wolesi Jirga has 250 seats with members directly elected by the people. Sixty-eight women were elected to the seats reserved under the Constitution, while 17 of them have been elected in their own rights. Each province was given proportionate representation in the Wolesi Jirga according to its population. Each member of the Wolesi Jirga will enjoy a five-year term.
An aspiring candidate for the Wolesi Jirga must fulfill the following criteria:
- Be at least 25 years of age
- Be a citizen of Afghanistan
- Be registered as a voter
- Be running as a representative in only one province
- Pay a registration fee of 15,000 Afghanis (approximately US$300) which will be refunded provided the candidate wins at least three percent (3%) of the vote
- Submit a nomination form along with photocopies of 500 voter ID cards supporting the candidacy
In addition, no candidate can have been charged with crimes against humanity.
The Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders)Edit
The Meshrano Jirga consists of a mixture of appointed and elected members (total 102 members). Sixty-eight members were selected by 34 directly elected Provincial Councils, and 34 were appointed by the President. President Karzai's appointments were vetted by an independent UN sponsored election board and included 17 women (50%), as required by the Constitution.
Each provincial council has elected one council member to serve in the Jirga (34 members), also each district council (34 members). Representatives of provincial councils will serve a term of four years, while representatives of district councils will serve a term of three years. Sebghatulla Mojadeddi was appointed President of Meshrano Jirga.
An aspiring candidate for the Meshrano Jirga must fulfill the following criteria:
- Be at least 35 years of age
- Be a citizen of Afghanistan
In addition, no potential member of the Meshrano Jirga can have been charged with crimes against humanity.
Construction of the new Parliament buildingEdit
The foundation stone for the new Afghan Parliament was laid in August 2005 by the last king of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah, in the presence of Hamid Karzai and Manmohan Singh. India's Central Public Works Department (CPWD) was the consultant for the project and the contract was awarded to an Indian infrastructure company in 2008. The new Parliament building is corralled in a 100-acre plot in the famous Darulaman section of Kabul. It sits next to historical landmarks such as Amanullah Khan's Palace and the Queen's Palace.
The construction work on the $220 million dollar building was initially slated to be complete by 2012, in 36 months. The deadline, however, was pushed back due to challenging work conditions, shortage of skilled workforce and precarious security environment. More than 500 laborers had worked on the building, most of them Indian nationals. The main attraction of the building is a bronze dome of 32 meter diameter and 17.15 meter height is considered to be the largest dome in Asia. The big dome will cover the assembly hall and the small dome will be over the entrance lobby. In front of the building, there is a water body with nine cascading fountains. Inside the building, a 20-feet fountain, made of green marble imported from Indian city of Udaipur, has been installed.
On December 25, 2015, during a state visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the new Parliament building was inaugurated along with President Ashraf Ghani. Ghani tweeted: "Pleased to welcome PM Modi to Kabul. Though, India & Afghanistan need no introduction, we are bound by a thousand ties... We have stood by each other in the best and worst of times."
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