"Stable Full of Animals"?

Afghan lawmaker wants her seat back
Dawn, April 6, 2008

KABUL, April 5: An outspoken Afghan lawmaker who was expelled from parliament after comparing her colleagues to a ‘stable full of animals’ said on Saturday she was trying to win her seat back.

Malalai Joya said her country’s constitution didn’t allow lawmakers to throw her out of parliament, and she had hired a lawyer who had met the chief justice of the country’s supreme court.

But Joya hasn’t tempered her criticism of the lawmaking body since she was thrown out last May. She said constituents had urged her not to compare members of parliament to animals – because it makes the animals look bad.

“’You have to apologise on behalf of the animals, because you compared these people with those innocent animals,’” Joya said her constituents had told her.

She said she could count the number of honest parliamentarians on her fingers, describing the rest as mafia members and criminals.

Joya, a women’s rights worker from Farah province, rose to prominence in 2003 when she branded powerful Afghan warlords as criminals during that year’s Loya Jirga.

She said her goal was to return to parliament and continue to fight for average Afghans.

Her lawyer, Mohammad Zaman, said he was hopeful Afghanistan’s court system would reinstate Joya.

“When they kicked me out of parliament I sent a letter to the supreme court and the government hasn’t yet made any decision about me,” Joya said. “It shows the government isn’t paying attention to my case.”

The country’s parliament was elected in 2005, one year after President Hamid Karzai was voted into office. Elections are supposed to be held every five years – meaning the country should vote again in 2009 and 2010.—AP

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