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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

National Assembly of Afghanistan signs memorandum of understanding with CSOs

Seven years after resumption of the National Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) formally recognizing the value that CSOs can bring to the parliament has now been signed with CSOs. After three months of careful negotiations that were supported by APAP technical staff, the memorandum was signed on May 14, 2012.

Based on this MOU, Parliament will be able to draw upon the subject matter expertise offered by a variety of CSOs. This knowledge will be particularly important for the legislative, oversight and representation roles of the NA. As members consider various proposals and policy positions they will be able to benefit from the CSOs who, following the MOU, can now sit and contribute during committee sessions.

Equally, the MUU represents a milestone in the development of the NA of Afghanistan, opening up and making its functions more transparent and open to public scrutiny, a key aspect of a parliament in a democracy. Further, as the CSOs will now have access to the NA, this provides them with an opportunity to advocate on key national interest matters. CSOs will also be able to access documents and legislative proposals timeously and in a much more transparent manner.

The signing ceremony was attended by the two secretary-generals of the legislative Houses, 35 CSO representatives and key secretariat officials. Wolesi Jirga Secretary General H.E Khudai Nazar Nasrat, and his Meshrano Jirga counterpart H.E. Mohammad Kazim Malwan acknowledged APAP support towards the signing of the MoU, and took the opportunity to highlight some of the potential benefits of the relationship between the NA and CSOs. “It has been our long awaited dream to narrow the distance between the public and the lawmakers from the very start of this new Parliament but due to some underlying obstacles we were not able to achieve that goal. But on our part we were working tirelessly to engage with the CSOs in all our major activities,” said Mr. Nasrat. He added that CSOs play an invaluable role in democratic societies and their support is vital if Parliament is to achieve its goals and targets.

The Director of Civil Society Development Center (CSDC), Dr. Saeed Niazi and Afghanistan Civil Society Forum (ACSF) Legal Advisor Shareef Sharafat signed the MoU on behalf of the CSO community. “Today we have achieved something we have been struggling to attain for the last seven years. All this time we have been fighting to have our two representatives participating in plenary sessions and engaging with legislators of both Houses. But this has not been possible due to various challenges, including the fear of the Parliamentarians who regarded CSOs as rivals and parallel institutions. Fortunately, today they have realized that we also represent the people and have deep-rooted relations with the public, which could help Parliament achieve its objectives. We highly appreciate the support and assistance we received from the Parliament secretariat and APAP which led to the signing of this memorandum that seemed impossible a few years ago,” said Mr. Niazi at the signing ceremony.

Posted May 21, 2012