Afghan Analysts Discuss Centralized, Decentralized Govt Systems

On July 17, 1973, former Prime Minister Mohammad Daoud Khan led a coup against Afghanistan’s last king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, overthrowing the monarchy system and setting the stage for a republic system to be formed in Afghanistan.

TOLOnews reporter Haseeba Atakpal discussed the origins and history of the republic system, and centralized and decentralized systems in Afghanistan with analysts, using the following questions:

What is a centralized political system?

What are the weaknesses and strengths of a centralized system?

What kind of political system does Afghanistan need in the post-peace era?

Presently, Afghanistan has an Islamic Republic system in which the president has full authority over national affairs and his representatives.

Analysts’ take:

“Afghanistan’s experience from the emirate system (term used for Taliban’s political system) shows that in that system the people have no right to vote, and that system is not based on the will of the people,” said Shukria Barakzai, former Afghan ambassador to Norway.

In such a system, power is concentrated in the center of the country, and the central government has complete freedom to enforce its rulings in all administrative units.

But in a decentralized political system, except for military affairs, fields such as foreign policy and the country’s financial policies and other authorities are shared with provinces and zones.

Analysts say that a decentralized system would help to speed up the working affairs in the provinces.

“We do not support the decentralized system in Afghanistan, because it brings a scattering of power and tensions; we believe that in backward countries, a decentralized system is quite perilous,” said Humayoun Jarir, a member of Hizb-e-Islami.

These days, when the discussions on peace have become more serious and the possibility of changing the current system as a result of a peace agreement with the Taliban is greater than ever, politicians have different views on the future system.

“In Afghanistan, the power has been centralized more than needed, the president holds the authority, he appoints the police of a district, he does everything– including procurement and the issuance of illegal legislative decrees, he even defies the parliament,” said Abdul Latif Pedram, a former MP.

Two decades have now passed since the establishment of the republic system in Afghanistan. Today Afghanistan has achieved gains in various fields such as women’s rights and press freedom.

Currently, the republic system has been transformed into an important issue between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The Taliban has insisted on the dissolution of the republic system. However, the Afghan government and the political leaders have said that maintaining the republic system is their red line.

Some experts believe that if the republic system in Afghanistan is substituted with a new system, the people’s right to vote will be taken away and social justice and equal rights will be destroyed.

A number of Afghan politicians say that the monopoly of power by a few people in the Presidential Palace has led to criticism of the centralized system in the country. They prefer a decentralized system to the current centralized system.