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Friday 24 September 2021
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History of the National Assembly of Afghanistan

The concept of establishing parliament in Afghanistan as inspired by regional and global changes was first framed during the reign of King Amanullah Khan; its projection and basis were laid in the Constitution of that time; the parliament of that time mostly played an advisory role rather than a legislative one.

After ratification of the constitutional principles of Kingdom of Nadir Khan, the parliament was officially established in two houses – National Assembly and House of Elders. The Parliament’s first term was commenced with 111 members in Salam Khana palace for the first time on September 9, 1931; since the mentioned date till 1973, thirteen legislative terms were held. During the mentioned period, most of the members were elected members rather than appointed members; each legislative term lasted 2 to 3 years.

The parliament was dissolved after the coup by Daud Khan and parliament with one house named National Jirga was proposed in the 1976 Constitution of Daud Khan. However, this law was never implemented. After a delay of 14 years, the National Assembly resumed its operations in two houses – Lower House and House of Elders, but as the past, it continued for only one term.

After the dissolution of Government of Dr. Najibullah, Afghanistan lacked a legislative body from 1992 through 2005 for another 14 years.

After approval of the new Constitution in 2002, Afghanistan once again got a bicameral parliament – Lower House and Upper House; the 15th term of parliament resumed for the first time in 2004 for a five year term. The 16th term of the parliament began in 2010; however, its duration was completed in 2015, but the government failed to arrange the next parliamentary election; for that reason, the duration was extended for one additional year which continues to date.

Article 81 of Constitution of the year 2004 states that the National Assembly of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, as the highest legislative organ, shall manifest the public will, as well as it shall represent the entire nation.

Members of the National Assembly

In accordance with article 83 of the Constitution, number of members of the Lower House of Parliament shall be proportionate to the population of each constituency, not exceeding the maximum of two hundred fifty individuals. The number of the Assembly members is fixed and consistent; meaning that an increase in the population or any changes in the political, geographical or other identical factors shall not affect the number of members of the Lower House of National Assembly.

However, the number of members of the Upper House is 102 who are elected and appointed per provision of article 84 of the Constitution as below:

  1. From amongst each provincial council members, one individual shall be elected by the respective council for a four year period;
  2. From amongst district council of each province, one individual, elected by the respective councils, for a three year period;
  3. The remaining one third of the members shall be appointed by the President, for a five year period, from amongst experts and personages, including two members from amongst the impaired and handicapped, as well as two from nomads. The President shall appoint fifty percent of these individuals from amongst women.

Administrative Structure of Parliament in Afghanistan

The Afghan Parliament is administered and led by the following entities:

  • Administrative Board: According to article 87 of the Constitution, each of the two houses of the National Assembly is comprised of a leadership board made up of 5 individuals (speaker, first and second deputies, and first and second secretaries).
  • Commissions: Each of the two houses of the National Assembly shall form commissions to ease and expedite their discussions; these commissions are of two types:
  1. Permanent Commissions: According to article 88 of the Constitution, each of the two houses of the National Assembly can have permanent commissions.
  2. Special Commissions: According to article 88 of the Afghan Constitution, merely the Lower House of the National Assembly can establish special commissions to review as well as investigate the Government functions; such commissions shall be established on the proposal of one third of the Parliament Members.
  • General Secretariat: Each of the two houses of the National Assembly shall have a general secretariat which is chaired by the Secretary General, two Deputies and Directors. Employees of this institution are appointed through open competitions.
    The duties of this organ are to regulate relations, transport, publications, library, working programs of sessions, meetings and preparation of documents and to arrange other concerned requirements.

Duties and Powers of the National Assembly

According to provisions of the Constitution, the National Assembly holds a wide range of powers, major of which are as below:

  1. Ratification, modification or abrogation of laws or legislative decrees;
  2. Approval of social, cultural, economical as well as technological development programs;
  3. Approval of the state budget as well as permission to obtain or grant loans;
  4. Creation, modification and/or abrogation of administrative units;
  5. Ratification of international treaties and agreements, or abrogation of membership of Afghanistan to them;
  6. Oversight on government performances; and
  7. Public representation.

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