The Communist Era Constitution
Immediately after the coup of 27 April 1978 (the Saur Revolution), the 1977 Constitution was abolished. Both Nur Muhammad Taraki (Head of State from April 1978 to September 1979) and his successor, Hafizullah Amin (September-December 1979), promised to introduce new constitutions, but these leaders were removed from power before any drafts had been prepared by special commissions which they had appointed. On 21 April 1980, the Revolutionary Council ratified the Basic Principles of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. These were superseded by a new Constitution ratified in April 1985. Another new Constitution was ratified during a meeting of a Loya Jirgah (Supreme National Tribal Assembly), held on 29-30 November 1987. This Constitution was amended in May 1990. The following is a summary of the Constitution as it stood in May 1990.
The fundamental duty of the State is to defend the independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Afghanistan. National sovereignty belongs to the people. The people exercise national sovereignty through the Loya Jirgah and the Meli Shura.
Foreign policy is based on the principle of peaceful co-existence and active and positive non-alignment. Friendship and co-operation are to be strengthened with all countries, particularly neighboring and Islamic ones. Afghanistan abides by the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and supports the struggle against colonialism, imperialism, Zionism, racism and fascism. Afghanistan favors disarmament and the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons. War propaganda is prohibited.
Islam is the religion of Afghanistan and no law shall run counter to the principles of Islam.
Political parties are allowed to be formed, providing that their political and activities are in accordance with the provision of the Constitution and the laws of the country. A party that is legally formed cannot be dissolved without legal grounds. Judges and prosecutors cannot be members of a political party during their term of office.
Pashtu and Dari are the official languages.
The capital is Kabul.
The State shall follow the policy of understanding and co-operation between all nationalities, clans and tribes within the country to ensure equality and rapid development of backward regions.
The family constitutes the basic unit of society. The State shall adopt necessary measures to ensure the health of mothers and children.
The State protects all forms of legal property, including private property. The hereditary right to property shall be guaranteed according to Islamic law.
For the growth of the national economy, the State encourages foreign investment in the Republic of Afghanistan and regulates it in accordance with the law.
RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE PEOPLE
All Subjects of Afghanistan are equal before the law. The following rights are guaranteed: The right to life and security, to complain to the appropriate government organs, to participate in political sphere, to freedom of speech and thought, to hold peaceful demonstrations and strikes, to work, to free education, to protection of health and social welfare, to scientific, technical and cultural activities, to freedom of movement both within Afghanistan and abroad, to observe the religious rites of Islam and of other religions, to security of residence and privacy of communication and correspondence, and to liberty and human dignity.
In criminal cases, an accused person is considered innocent until guilt is recognized by the court. Nobody may be arrested, detained or punished except in accordance with the law.
Every citizen is bound to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Afghanistan, to pay taxes and duties to the State in accordance with the provisions of the law, and undertake military service, when and as required.
This is the highest manifestation of the will of the people of Afghanistan. It is composed of: the President and Vice-Presidents, members of the Meli Shura (National Assembly), the General Prosecutor, the Council of Ministers, the Attorney-General, his deputies and members of the Attorney-General's Office, the chairman of the Constitution Council, the heads of the provincial council, representatives from each province, according to the number of their representatives in the Wolasi Jirgah (House of Representatives), elected by the people by a general secret ballot, and a minimum of 50 people, from among prominent political, scientific, social and religious figures, appointed by the president.
The Loya Jirgah is empowered: to approve and amend the constitution; to elect the President and to accept the resignation of President: to consent to the declaration of war and armistice; and to adopt decisions on major questions regarding the destiny of the country. The Loya Jirgah shall be summoned, opened and chaired by the President. Sessions of the Loya Jirgah require a minimum attendance of two-third of the members. Decisions shall be adopted by a majority vote. In the event of the dissolution of the Wolasi Jirgah (House of Representatives), its members shall retain their membership to the Loya Jirgah until a new Wolasi Jirgah is elected. Elections to the Loya Jirgah shall be regulated by law and the procedure laid down by the Loya Jirgah itself.
The President is the Head of State and shall be elected by a majority vote of the Loya Jirgah for a term of seven years. No person can be elected as President for more than two terms. The President is accountable, and shall report, to the Loya Jirgah. The Loya Jirgah shall be convened to elect a new President 30 days before the end of the term of office of the outgoing President. Any Muslim citizen of the Republic of Afghanistan who is more than 40 years of age can be elected as President.
The President shall exercise the following executive powers: the supreme command of the armed forces: the ratification of the resolution of the Meli Shura; the appointment of the Prime Minister; the approval of the appointment of ministers, judges and army officials; the granting of citizenship and the commuting of punishment; the power to call a referendum; to proclaim a state of emergency; and to declare war (with the consent of the Loya Jirgah). Should a state of emergency continue for more than three months, the consent of the Loya Jirgah is imperative for its extension.
In the event of the President being unable to perform his duties, the presidential functions and powers shall entrusted to the first Vice-President. In the event of the death or resignation of the President, the first Vice-President shall ask the Loya Jirgah to elect a new President within one month. In the event of resignation, the President shall submit his resignation directly to the Loya Jirgah.
The Meli Shura (National Assembly) is the highest legislative organ of the Republic of Afghanistan. It consists of two houses: the Wolasi Jirgah (House of Representative) and the Sena (Senate). Members of the Wolasi Jirgah (representatives) are elected by general secret ballot for a legislative term of five years. Members of the Sena (senators) are elected and appointed in the following manner: two people from each province are elected for a period of five years: tow people from each provincial council are elected by the council for a period three years; and the remaining one-third of senators are appointed by the President for a period of four years.
The Meli Shura is vested with the authority: to approve, amend and repeal laws and legislative decrees, and to present them to the international treaties; to approve socio-economic development plans and to endorse the Government's reports on their execution; to approve the state budget and to evaluate the Government's report on its execution; to approve the state budget and to evaluate the Government's report on its execution; to establish and make changes to administrative units; to establish and abolish ministries; to appoint and remove Vice-Presidents, on the recommendation of the President; and to endorse the establishment of relations with foreign countries and international organizations. The Wolasi Jirgah also has the power to approve a vote of confidence or no confidence in the Council of Ministers or one of its members.
At its first session, the Wolasi Jirgah elects, from among its members, and executive committee, composed of a chairman, two deputy chairmen and two secretaries, for the whole term of the legislature. The Sena elects, from among its members, an executive committee, composed of a chairman for a term of five years, and two deputy chairmen and two secretaries for a term of one year.
Ordinary sessions of the Meli Shura are held twice a year and do not normally last longer than three months. An extraordinary session can be held at the request of the President, the chairman of either house, or one-fifth of the members of each house. The houses require a minimum attendance of two-thirds of the members of each house and decisions shall be adopted by a majority vote. Sessions are open, unless the houses decide to meet in closed sessions.
The following authorities have the right to propose the introduction, amendment or repeal of a law in either house of the Meli Shura: The President, the standing commissions of the Meli Shura, at least one-tenth of the membership of each house, the Council of Ministers, the Supreme Court, and the office of the Attorney-General.
If the decision of one house is rejected by the other, a joint committee, consisting of an equal number of members from both houses, shall be formed. A decision by the joint committee, which will be agreed by a two-thirds majority, will be considered valid after approval by the President. If the joint committee fails to resolve differences, the matter shall be discussed in a joint session of the Meli Shura are enforced after being signed by the President.
After consulting the chairman of the Wolasi Jirgah, the chairman of the Sena, the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and the chairman of the Constitution Council, the President can declare the dissolution of the Wolasi Jirgah, stating his justification for doing so. Re-election shall be held within 3 months of the dissolution.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
The Council of Ministers is composed of:: Prime Minister, deputy Prime Ministers and Ministers. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the Prime Minister. It is empowered: to formulate and implement domestic and foreign policies; to formulate economic development plans and state budgets; and to ensure public order.
The Council of Ministers is dissolved under the following conditions: the resignation of the Prime Minster, chronic illness of the Prime Minster, the withdrawal of confidence in the Council of Ministers by the Meli Shura, the end of the legislative term, or the dissolution of the Wolasi Jirgah or the Meli Shura.
(See section on the Judicial System)
THE CONSTITUTION COUNCIL
The responsibilities of this body are to evaluate and ensure the conformity of laws, legislative decrees and international treaties with the Constitution; and to give legal advice to the President on constitutional matters. The Constitution Council is composed of a chairman, a vice-chairman and eight members, who are appointed by the President.
LOCAL ADMINSTRATIVE ORGANFor the purpose of local administration, the Republic of Afghanistan is divided into provinces, districts, cities and wards. These administrative units are led respectively, by governors, district administrators, mayors and heads of ward. In each province a provincial council and district councils are formed in accordance with the law. Provincial councils and district councils each elect a chairman and a secretary from among their members. The term of office of a provincial council and a district council is three years.
FINAL PROVISIONSAmendments to the Constitution shall be made by the Loya Jirgah. Any amendment shall be on the proposal of the President; or on the proposal of one-third and the approval of two-thirds of the members of the Meli Shura. Amendment to the Constitution during a state of emergency is not allowed.
Note: Following the downfall of Najibullah's regime in April 1992, a provisional mujahidin government assumed power in Kabul. In July an acting executive body, known as the Leadership Council, appointed a special commission to draw up a new and more strictly Islamic Constitution. In September 1993 it was reported that a draft Constitution had been approved by the commission, in preparation for the holding of a general election.
In May 1996, following the signing of the Mahipar Agreement between President Burhanuddin Rabani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a Constitution to cover the interim period pending the holding of a general election was drawn up and published. The main provision of the Constitution of the Interim Period are as follows: General provision: Afghanistan is an Islamic country where all aspect of the life of the people shall be conducted according to the tenets of Shair`a.
President: The President is the Head of State and exercises the highest executive power; the President is the supreme commander of the armed forces and his approval is required for the appointment of the armed forces and his approval is required for the appointment of all civil and military officials; the President is authorized to declare war or peace (on the advice of the Council of Ministers and Islamic Shura), to approve death sentences or grant pardons, to summon and dismiss a Shura, and to sign international treaties. In the event of the President's death, the presidential functions and powers shall be entrusted to the President of the Supreme Court until a new Head of State can be appointed.
Council of Ministers: The Council of Ministers, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, shall discuss and make decisions regarding government policy (both internal and external), the annual budget and administrative regulations, all of which shall be referred to the President for his assent.
According to the Iranian news agency, IRNA, in early October 1996 the Pakistani political party, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, had prepared a draft Constitution for Afghanistan at the request of Taliban, which had seized control of the capital in late September.
Source of this document:
The Europa World Year Bood
1998 Volume 1 - 39th Edition
Volume I: International Organizations
Countries: Afghanistan to Jordon.
Pages: 328 - 329