Three years of uncertainty – when will the new Badakhshan mayor start doing his job?

The new mayor of Faizabad Badakhshan, although successfully passing the exam of the Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission and the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), has yet to start his work. About three years ago, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance appointed him as the new mayor of Badakhshan. However, documents received by 8 Subh show that several local officials, including the governor of Badakhshan, did not give their green light to this appointment and, despite everything, the new mayor of the province remains uncertain about his future. Meanwhile, some sources have emphasized the need to appoint the former mayor’s son to the post of mayor. Now, three years into this situation, the new mayor of Faizabad wants his position to be clarified. He has requested the relevant authorities to either appoint or dismiss him from this position and hire him at a lower position, because he has not received any salary for 14 months. Meanwhile, Badakhshan provincial office says that due to social problems, the new mayor was not introduced to the mayor’s office. Local officials in Badakhshan say they are working to resolve the issue so that a new mayor can be introduced. The Independent Directorate of Local Governance has also acknowledged the challenges and says it is working to put the new mayor of Badakhshan in an equivalent position according to the agreement.

Documents received by 8 Subh show that Osama Basir, the new mayor of Badakhshan, was selected for the post in the summer of 2018 through an open competition process. After passing the exam on September 12, 2018, he was introduced as the new mayor of Badakhshan province according to a presidential decree. Mr. Basir, contrary to this decree, has not taken office yet. He said the reason for not being named mayor of Faizabad was opposition from local officials in the province. Although he has been repeatedly nominated as mayor by local authorities and the presidential palace, local officials have prevented him from occupying the office. Also, according to documents provided by Mr. Basir to 8 Subh, the official of Badakhshan province said that the reason for his opposition to him was not failure to appoint the son of the former mayor of the province to one of the official positions of the province.

The provincial office also cited social problems, including security threats, as the reason why Osama Basir was not officially named mayor. The office said he could not nominate Mr. Basir as mayor of the province because of security concerns. This is while the governor of Badakhshan recently nominated three other people to the IDLG to appoint one of them as the mayor of the province. The governor also called on officials at the center to reinstate Osama Basir to his previous post.

Mr. Basir said that on July 13, 2018, while was waiting to be introduced as the mayor of this province, his car was attacked by gunmen in the evening of the same day,. He said that local officials in Badakhshan province had reported the attack to the IDLG, which led him to be summoned to the capital. Thus, Osama Basir, based on the ruling of the directorate on October 15, 2018, was temporarily included in this administration. However, Mr. Basir pointed out that even though he has repeatedly appealed to various authorities to address this problem to be introduced as the mayor or to be appointed to one of the similar positions in other departments, his request has not received a response so far.

“I approached the presidency twice,” he said. “The Office of Internal Affairs requested information from the IDLG in writing within 24 hours, but 152 days have passed since the letter was issued and the IDLG has not responded. I appealed to the Administrative Reform Commission twice and to the Anti-Corruption Commission once, but I have still not received a response.”

Mr. Basir further claims that he has not received his salary for 14 months. He believes that according to the law, the presidential decree, and his attendance records, he is considered entitled to a salary, but has not received it for over a year now.

Osama Basir called on the government to allow him to occupy the position to which he was legally appointed, but if not, to appoint him to a similar position in another part of the country. “If there is no other option for the government, pay me the outstanding salaries and benefits and the president can withdraw his decree,” he said. “In a republic where even a presidential decree is not enforceable and there is still a culture of corruption in localities, it is better for educated citizens to look for other ways to earn their livelihood.”

Badakhshan civil society organizations have criticized the absence of a mayor in the province. Badakhshan city council chairperson, Fazlullah Amaj, told 8 Subh that the province’s municipality was in a state of disarray and that people were confused about their administrative tasks. He said that even though a mayor was appointed for Faizabad three years ago, due to disagreements about the appointment, the mayor has not yet taken office. Amaj said that now, due to the absence of the mayor, this office was being abused and the government needed to address this situation as soon as possible. Mr. Amaj also denied that any social problems were facing the new mayor, saying that the people had not confronted any of the provincial officials.

The governor of Badakhshan, however, said that the reason for not introducing the official mayor of the province was social problems. The governor of the province, Mohammad Zikiria Saoda, told 8 Subh on Monday, January 25, that Osama Basir had not been allowed to occupy the post due to social problems, especially popular opposition. However, he said that the governor of the province was trying to solve these problems and prepare the ground for the introduction of a new mayor.

Meanwhile, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance acknowledged that there have been impediments to Mr. Basir’s appointment. Nargis Momand, a spokesperson for the directorate, told 8 Subh that it was difficult to nominate Osama Basir as mayor of Badakhshan due to public opposition and the spread of coronavirus. However, she stated that Mr. Basir had been working as a service officer in local organizations for some time now. Ms. Momand pointed out that this problem would be addressed soon and Osama Basir would be appointed as a sectoral employee in Badakhshan. She also stated that the directorate was trying to hire Mr. Basir in an equivalent position, according to the agreement with him.

This is not the first time that the presence of a new person has led to controversy in important local positions. Some positions were controversial in many provinces, with the exception that the government replaced them earlier due to strong opposition from the people. In a case last year, Juma Gul Himmat was appointed governor of Badghis, but after opposition from residents of the province, he was removed and appointed as Kabul’s police chief.