WOLESI JIRGA &
PROVINCIAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS
AFGHANISTAN 2005
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General Information about the Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council Elections


  1. What elections will take place in Afghanistan in 2005?
  2. Who will conduct these elections?
  3. What is the JEMB?
  4. What is the mandate of the JEMB?
  5. What laws govern the 2005 Afghanistan elections?
  6. Who can vote in these elections?
  7. What electoral system will be used in the 2005 elections?
  8. Is there a role for political parties in the 2005 elections?


  9. The Wolesi Jirga
  10. What is the Wolesi Jirga?
  11. What is the mandate of the Wolesi Jirga?
  12. How are the 249 seats of the Wolesi Jirga distributed?
  13. How is the Wolesi Jirga formed?
  14. Are women guaranteed representation in the Wolesi Jirga?


  15. Provincial Councils

  16. What is a Provincial Council?
  17. What will a Provincial Council do?
  18. How many people will sit on a Provincial Council?
  19. How is a Provincial Council formed?
  20. Are women guaranteed representation in the Provincial Council?
  21. Why are there no District Council elections in 2005?
  22. What is the Meshrano Jirga?
  23. How will the Meshrano Jirga formed?


  24. Candidate Nomination
  25. What is Candidate Nomination?
  26. When is the Candidate Nomination Period?
  27. Who can be a candidate in the 2005 election?
  28. How can aspiring candidates nominate?
  29. Who is barred from becoming a candidate?
  30. What is the procedure for becoming a candidate?
  31. Can a person stand as a candidate in both the Wolesi Jirga Election and the Provincial Council Election?


  32. Voter Registration
  33. Who can cast a ballot in the Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council elections?
  34. Will there be any voter registration exercise prior to the September 2005 elections?
  35. Why is a supplemental Registration period necessary?
  36. When will the supplemental Registration period be held?


  37. Symbols
  38. How will voters be able to recognize candidates on the ballot paper?
  39. Will symbols be chosen by candidates or will they be allocated?
  40. Why can't I use my party's symbol?
  41. What if I don't want to use a symbol?
  42. Will symbols be different for the Wolesi Jirga and the Provincial Council elections?
  43. Will candidates be able to choose religious symbols?
  44. Can candidates in separate provinces who are aligned to the same political party use the same symbol?
  45. How will voters be informed of the symbol system?

1. What elections will take place in Afghanistan in 2005?
Elections for both the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of the National Assembly), and Provincial Councils will be held simultaneously on 18 September throughout Afghanistan.

2. Who will conduct these elections?
The Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB), established by Presidential Decree 40/2003, is responsible for conducting the 2005 elections. The JEMB Secretariat (JEMBS) will help implement the elections in accordance with the policies and procedures defined by the JEMB.

3. What is the JEMB?
The Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) is an independent electoral authority of 14 members. It comprises the nine-member Independent Election Commission (IEC), appointed by President Hamid Karzai and four international electoral experts designated by the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA). The Chief Electoral Officer, who heads the JEMB Secretariat, is a non-voting member of the JEMB.

4. What is the mandate of the JEMB?
The mandate of the JEMB is to administer all elections during Afghanistan's transitional period. The JEMB empowered its Secretariat to implement the October 2004 Afghanistan Presidential Elections. It has again authorized its Secretariat to implement the upcoming Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council elections.

5. What laws govern the 2005 Afghanistan elections?
The Constitution of Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Electoral Law of May 2004 govern the 2005 Afghanistan elections. It is expected that the Electoral Law will be amended shortly to provide the legal basis for the electoral process about to unfold in 2005.

6. Who can vote in these elections?
All citizens of Afghanistan who are over the age of 18 on Election Day and who hold a voter registration card can vote in the Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council elections.

7. What electoral system will be used in the 2005 elections?
A Single Non-Transferable Vote system (SNTV) has been chosen by the Government of Afghanistan as the electoral system for both the Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council elections. Under the SNTV system, voters select one candidate only from those listed on the ballot. Candidates with the highest votes fill the seats allocated to their respective constituencies.

8. Is there a role for political parties in the 2005 elections?
Political parties will have the opportunity to endorse candidates, although candidates will run as individuals. It is important to note these endorsements will not appear on the ballot.

The Wolesi Jirga

9. What is the Wolesi Jirga?
The National Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the legislative branch of the Government and consists of two houses: the Wolesi Jirga (House of the People) and the Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders). The Wolesi Jirga is the Lower House of the National Assembly and is made up of 249 representatives, who will be directly elected by the people of Afghanistan.

10. What is the mandate of the Wolesi Jirga?
The Wolesi Jirga may:

  • Consider, debate and approve or reject draft laws
  • Approve a law with a two-thirds majority
  • Approve or reject Government proposals to obtain or grant loans
  • Make decisions on the annual state budget and state-funded development programs
  • Question Government ministers
  • Set up special commissions to review and investigate the actions of the Government
  • Approve or reject individuals appointed by the President to Government positions

11. How are the 249 seats of the Wolesi Jirga distributed?
Each province of Afghanistan represents a constituency of the Wolesi Jirga and has been allocated at least two seats. Exact seat numbers will be allocated in proportion to population estimates for each province, which will be provided by the Central Statistics Office to the JEMB.

12. How is the Wolesi Jirga formed?
Voters in each constituency (province) will directly elect representatives to the Wolesi Jirga for terms of five years.

13. Are women guaranteed representation in the Wolesi Jirga?
At least 68 seats in the Wolesi Jirga have been reserved for women, in accordance with the constitutional provision that at least two women, on average, be elected from each province. If a province is allocated only two seats, one seat will be reserved for a woman.

Provincial Councils

14. What is a Provincial Council?
Each province will have its own democratically elected council of nine to 29 members, depending on population size, to work with the Provincial Governor.

15. What will a Provincial Council do?
The Provincial Council will take part in the development and improvement of the province and advise the provincial administration on related issues. It will act with the cooperation of the provincial administration.

16. How many people will sit on a Provincial Council?
The size of each provincial council will be determined according to population in the following manner:

  • Provinces with less than 500,000 inhabitants: 9 members
  • Provinces with 500,000-1,000,000 inhabitants: 15 members
  • Provinces with more than 1,000,000- 2,000,000 inhabitants: 19 members
  • Provinces with more than 2,000,000-3,000,000 inhabitants: 23 members
  • Province with more than 3,000,000 inhabitants: 29 members

17. How is a Provincial Council formed?
Voters in each province will directly elect representatives to their Provincial Council for terms of four years each. The Provincial Council will then elect one of its members as President of the Council.

18. Are women guaranteed representation in the Provincial Council?
At least two women will be elected to each Provincial Council.

19. Why are there no District Council elections in 2005?
There will be no District Council elections in 2005 primarily because there is still no agreement on the number and boundaries of districts, or their populations (which are required for seat allocation).

20. What is the Meshrano Jirga?
The Meshrano Jirga (House of Elders) is the Upper House of the National Assembly. The Meshrano Jirga will work with the Wolesi Jirga to fulfil duties set forth in the Constitution including:

  • Approving, changing, or rejecting laws or legislative decrees
  • Approving development programs
  • Approving the state budget and government proposals to obtain or grant loans
  • Creating, modifying, or abolishing administrative units such as provinces and districts
  • Approving or rejecting international treaties and agreements

21. How will the Meshrano Jirga formed?
Under the Constitution, two thirds (68) of the Meshrano Jirga's 102 members will be indirectly elected by Provincial Councils and District Councils. One third (34) of its members will be appointed by the President.

Each Provincial Council will elect one member of the Meshrano Jirga to a four-year term. These 34 members will form one-third of the Meshrano Jirga.

The District Councils in each province would elect one member of the Meshrano Jirga to a three-year term. These 34 members would form one-third of the Meshrano Jirga.

The President would appoint 34 members of the Meshrano Jirga to a five-year term, including two members of the impaired and handicapped community and two members of the Kuchi (nomad) community. Fifty percent (17) of the Presidential appointees to the Meshrano Jirga would be women.

However, due to the decision to delay District Council elections, the Meshrano Jirga may be formed without the 34 District Council representatives. To ensure balance between indirectly elected and appointed representatives, the Supreme Court has provided two avenues to make up for the absence of District representatives: either that the Provincial Councils provisionally provide two representatives instead of one; or that the President only appoints 17 members to join the 34 Provincial Council representatives.

Candidate Nomination

22. What is Candidate Nomination?
Candidate Nomination is the process administered by the JEMB through which Afghan citizens can apply to register as a candidate for the Wolesi Jirga or Provincial Council elections.

23. When is the Candidate Nomination Period?
The Candidate Nomination Period will run for three weeks only from 30 April until 19 May.

24. Who can be a candidate in the 2005 election?
According to the Constitution, a candidate for the 2005 Parliamentary elections must:

  • Be a citizen of Afghanistan or have obtained citizenship at least ten years earlier.
  • Not be convicted of a crime against humanity, or a crime; or have been deprived of their civil rights by a court.
  • Be at least 25 years old at the time of candidacy for the Wolesi Jirga and at least 35 years old at the time of candidacy or appointment for the Meshrano Jirga

Candidates must also:

  • Present a list of voters who support their candidacy in the constituency in which they plan to stand for election (a list of 300 supporters' signatures is required for the Wolesi Jirga and 200 for the Provincial Council elections)
  • Be registered voters and able to present their voter registration card. Candidates who are not already registered will be able to register as voters at provincial offices when they present their nomination papers.
  • Be nominated in only one constituency and compete in only one election (ie candidates cannot compete in both the Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council elections).
  • Submit nomination papers in person, so they can be photographed
  • Provide a monetary deposit that will be returned if the candidate is elected or receives more than two percent of votes.
  • Sign the Code of Conduct for Candidates

Candidates must NOT:

  • Pursue objectives that are opposed to the principles of the holy religion of Islam and the word and spirit of the Constitution.
  • Use or threaten force or propagate the use of force.
  • Incite ethnic, linguistic, regional or religious tensions and discriminations.
  • Endanger the rights or freedom of individuals or intentionally disrupt public order and security.
  • Receive funds or in-kind contributions from illegal foreign or domestic sources
  • Have unofficial military forces or be part of such forces at the time of candidacy

The total number of candidates for election will not be known until the end of the candidate nomination period, but it is estimated that between 5,000 and 10,000 candidates may wish to stand for election.

25. How can aspiring candidates nominate?
Candidate Nomination Offices will be established in each JEMBS Provincial Election Office. Applicants must register in the office in the Province of their constituency.

26. Who is barred from becoming a candidate?

  • The Chief Justice, members of the Supreme Court and the Attorney General;
  • All members of the Armed Forces including those under the Ministries of Interior, National Defense and the General Department of National Security
  • Ministers, Governors, District and Municipal Administrators, and Directors of Ministerial Departments
  • Electoral officials

All these people must resign from office at the time of nomination if they wish to be candidates for the Wolesi Jirga or Provincial Council elections.

  • In addition, judges and public prosecutors cannot become candidates unless they resign at the time of nomination. However if they are not elected, judges and public prosecutors may return to their offices within 20 days of the announcement of election results. Those who head unofficial military forces or are part of such forces at the time of candidacy are prohibited from participation.

27. What is the procedure for becoming a candidate?
Any registered voter is welcome to visit the Candidate Nomination Office, in the province they wish to contest, to apply in person to register as a candidate.

Applicants should be prepared to have their photograph taken for the ballot at the time of their application and must:

  • Complete the Candidate Nomination Application Form
  • Sign a Declaration of Eligibility
  • Sign the Code of Conduct for Candidates
  • Sign the Confirmation of Candidate Application Receipt
  • Submit their deposit fee and supporters' signatures
  • Select a symbol, from a pre-defined list of symbols, to identify their candidacy on the ballot

28. Can a person stand as a candidate in both the Wolesi Jirga Election and the Provincial Council Election?
No. According to the Electoral Law, a candidate can contest a seat in only one constituency (province) and in only one election on the same day.

Voter Registration

29. Who can cast a ballot in the Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council elections?
All Afghans over 18 years of age and in possession of a Voter Registration Card will be able to vote. Voters will be able to cast their ballots at any polling station in the province stated as their province of residence on their Voter Registration Card. Afghans will vote in exclusively male or female polling stations staffed by male or female staff respectively.

30. Will there be any voter registration exercise prior to the September 2005 elections?
Yes. Although a comprehensive voter registration exercise conducted prior to the 2004 Afghan Presidential Election registered nearly 11 million Afghan voters, there is a need for a supplemental Registration period prior to the Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Council Elections.

31. Why is a supplemental Registration period necessary?
A supplemental Registration period will allow the JEMB to register potential new voters in a number of groups including:

  • Those who have turned 18 since the last registration period
  • Those who returned to Afghanistan since the last registration period
  • Those who chose not to participate in the 2004 registration exercise (particularly women in some regions)
  • Those who have lost their Voter Registration Card
  • Those who were unable to register before 2004 Presidential Elections During the supplemental Registration period, already-registered voters will be able to update their province of residence. This is important as voters will only be able to participate in elections in the province listed on their Voter Registration Card.

32. When will the supplemental Registration period be held?
It is expected that the Registration period will be conducted over four weeks from the last week of June until the last week of July. Registration Centers will be established in each District.

Symbols

33. How will voters be able to recognize candidates on the ballot paper?
A symbol will be placed alongside the title, name and photograph of each candidate to help voters recognize their preferred candidate. The JEMB decided that symbols should be used to facilitate recognition by voters of their preferred candidate, and to provide an extra means of identification in the event that photos may be unclear or similar to others.

34. Will symbols be chosen by candidates or will they be allocated?
A set of pre-defined symbols has been drawn up by the JEMB in consultation with a range of focus groups. The JEMB decided on a combination of "chance and choice" for allocating symbols. Candidates will draw three symbols from a box and will have to choose one of them as their unique candidate symbol on the ballot.

35. Why can't I use my party's symbol?
The elections for the Wolesi Jirga and Provincial Councils will be conducted under the SNTV system. This means that each candidate appears as an individual rather than on a party platform.

36. What if I don't want to use a symbol? Each candidate will be allotted a symbol by procedures mentioned above. This symbol will appear on the ballot paper next to the candidate's name and photograph. It is the candidate's choice whether or not he or she campaigns using the symbol.

37. Will symbols be different for the Wolesi Jirga and the Provincial Council elections?
Yes. Symbols on ballots for the Wolesi Jirga ballot will be encased in squares. Symbols on ballots for the Provincial Council elections will be encased in circles. Candidates for the Wolesi Jirga election will choose a symbol in a square, whilst candidate for the Provincial Council elections will choose a symbol in a circle.

38. Will candidates be able to choose religious symbols?
No. In order to respect the holy religion of Islam and the equality of all candidates, it was decided not to include symbols which could be considered religious.

39. Can candidates in separate provinces who are aligned to the same political party use the same symbol?
There are no guarantees that aligned candidates in different provinces will be able to use the same symbol. This is subject to the chance and choice system of symbol selection.

40. How will voters be informed of the symbol system?
The 1,600 national civic educators employed by the JEMBS' Public Outreach Program across Afghanistan will explain the concept of symbols to the electorate, but candidates have the responsibility to use the symbol and inform their supporters of the reasons and benefits of using them.

Copyright 2005 - Wolesi Jirga & Provincial Council Elections - Joint Electoral Management Body