Know the authority of representatives of provincial councils and the president
Candidates make many promises during a campaign, and some of them cannot be fulfilled because they are outside the power of the elected office.
In order to make informed choices in electing their representatives, and have realistic expectations, voters need to know about the authority and powers of the office.
Powers of the Provincial Council Members
The number of provincial council members is determined on the basis of the population of a province. Under the election laws, the minimum number of provincial council seats is nine and the maximum is 29.
A province with less than 500,000 populations will have nine seats, and provinces that have a population of more than three million will have 29 seats.
Only the people of a province can vote for provincial council members in that province.
The powers of the council are restricted to that province only.
Each provincial council sends a senator to represent the province for four years to the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament).
The provincial councils have an advisory role in the affairs of the provincial governments, including economic affairs, social affairs, health, and education. The provincial councils review the reconstruction plans and budgets of their respective provinces and release reports to the media about that.
Provincial council members may play a role in solving problems on the regional level.
They also have the responsibility to help in eradication of all customs and traditions which are against Islam and laws of the land, such as forced marriages and the exchange of women in settling disputes.
The provincial council members meet at least once a month with their respective governors and with the people of the province at least once every three months.
Powers of the President
The constitution of Afghanistan is above all laws, and delegates the following powers to the president of the country.
The president is the top leader who performs his role in administration, legal and judicial affairs under the Constitution of Afghanistan.
The president is directly elected by the people, by winning more than 50 per cent of the total votes. His term of office is five years, and he can be re-elected once.
The president of Afghanistan should be a Muslim and at least 40 years old. He should not have dual citizenship with another country and his parents must be Afghans. The president should not have committed human rights violations.
The president can't be a dictator, as his work is monitored by the parliament and the Supreme Court.
The president's powers, which are given a practical form with the approval of parliament, include policies of the country, budget, declaration of war, sending of troops abroad and declaration of an emergency in the country.
Responsibilities of the President include monitoring and implementation of the Constitution, command of the security forces of Afghanistan, ensuring security of the country, convening of Loya Jirga, selection of heads and members of delegations to represent Afghanistan in meetings abroad, acceptance of representation papers of foreign political representatives in Afghanistan, issuance of laws and decrees.
The president has the powers to appoint senior officials, such as judges and officers of the security forces. He can also sign agreements with foreign countries, reduce punishments or grant pardons, award medals, symbols or other honorary certificates, and form commissions to bring reforms.
The president has to keep in mind the welfare of the Afghan people while implementing the Constitution.
The president can't sell, or give away state property or wealth without fulfilling legal requirements. The president can't use his influence to favor a particular ethnicity, region, nationality, religion or party.
The president can be charged with human rights violations or damage to national interest by a vote of one-third of the members of the Wolesi Jirga.
If the allegations leveled against the president are approved by two-thirds of the members of the Wolesi Jirga, the Wolesi Jirga then forms a Loya Jirga within three months to decide whether the president should be removed or not.
Apart from other expenses, the official monthly salary of the president is now $280 – 14,000 Afghanis.