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Friday, April 22, 2016

Political crisis continues in Iraq with no vote on new cabinet

The Iraqi parliament canceled a vote Thursday on the reshuffling of the cabinet of PM Haider al-Abadi. There has been a sit-in within the parliament over a revised list of candidates for the cabinet that Abadi had put forward.
 

Those involved in the sit-in held a mock ballot that ousted the speaker of the parliament, Salim Al-Jabouri. The protesters claim that Abadi drew up his list through consultation with the main Iraqi political parties. The dissenters claim that his list will again result in corruption and bias. Abadi has been trying for some time to come up with a new cabinet to fight corruption and bias among members. The well-known Shia cleric, Moqtada Sadr, has been instrumental in organizing demonstrations against corruption in the government. A video is appended.
While consultation with main political parties helped to create some stability in the Iraqi political system, it also was part of the system of corruption in Iraq. Reformers such as Sadr want the cabinet figures to be skilled technocrats who have the abilities to do their jobs effectively. The system of ethnic and sectarian quotas has allowed some groups to gain wealth and influence at the expense of the general welfare of Iraqis. Those who are sitting in want Abadi to stay with the line-up of non-partisan technocrats he had presented at the end of last month.
Neither PM Abadi nor the speaker showed up for the Thursday session, prompting those sitting in to hold a mock session at which they removed the speaker. Jabouri told reporters that there was no session because the PM did not show up. Jabouri complained about what he called "the state of unruliness" created by protests. He was referring to a brawl that broke out during a discussion the previous day. Sadr's complaints about the Iraqi parliaments are borne out by the Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index which ranks Iraq 161 out of 168 nations. Jabouri indicated there would be a meeting on the 16th but did not say whether a vote would be taken nor what list would be presented. He indicated that his ouster was not constitutional and that he would chair the Saturday session. The ouster angered some in the Sunni community because he is one of the last high-ranking Sunni figures in the government. However, the dissenters include some Sunni figures. Some of the dissenters are planning to request a no-confidence vote in the PM the speaker, and the president each of whom represent one of three divisions, Shiites, Sunni, and Kurds.
While the technocratic list is supported by many Sunnis and Al-Sadr's Shi'ite faction, it is opposed by the prime minister's own larger Shi'ite faction as well as the Kurds. Jabouri threatened to dissolve parliament and call new elections in the face of the continued opposition to the cabinet. Abadi finds himself in an almost hopeless position with members of his own bloc predicting his ouster and the group's real leader former PM Nouri al-Maliki seeking to have him ousted. We should soon know if agreement is possible or if there will be new elections.


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