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Middle east

Supreme court orders parliament to get down to business

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-10-25

Iraq's highest court ordered the country's parliament to get back to work on Sunday, since sessions stalled after politicians failed to agree on a new government seven months after an inconclusive election.

 

REUTERS - Iraq's highest court on Sunday ordered parliament to resume its sessions despite a deadlock among politicians who have failed to agree on the formation of a government seven months after an inconclusive election.
 
The ruling may pressure Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions to speed up efforts to reach a deal, but it does not mean an immediate end when parliament reconvenes to an impasse that has stoked tensions just as Iraq emerges from the worst of the war.
 
Parliament's temporary speaker, Fouad Masoum, said he expected to set a date for the session within days.
 
"I think that this decision will accelerate the government formation," he told Reuters.
 
"When I receive the court's ruling, I will call on all parliamentary blocs to sit down and discuss a date for the session. At the session there should be a consensus among them."
 
The deadlock has mainly pitted incumbent Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki against a bloc heavily backed by Iraq's once dominant minority Sunnis. U.S. officials fear any deal that sidelines Sunnis could reinvigorate a weakened but stubborn insurgency that still kills dozens every month.
 
Parliament met briefly in June but lawmakers left the first session open, saying they needed more time to decide who will hold the nation's highest offices.
 
The federal court's ruling labelled June's decision unconstitutional. The case against Masoum was brought by a group of Iraqi non-governmental organisations.
 
Under Iraq's constitution drawn up in the chaotic wake of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the new 325-seat parliament should pick a speaker in its first session and a new president within 30 days. The president would in turn select a prime minister from the biggest bloc and ask the nominee to form a government.
 
But Iraq's political blocs, none of which controls a majority in parliament, are far from reaching a deal. This month, Iraq's Shi'ite alliance backed Maliki as its nominee for prime minister after months of argument.
 
The decision by the National Alliance, a merger of Maliki's State of Law coalition and the Iran-friendly Iraqi National Alliance (INA), was not unanimous. Maliki remains at odds with some Shi'ite groups inside the National Alliance, as well as the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, which won the most seats, 91.
 
Iraqiya, led by former prime minister Iyad Allawi, is vying to form its own governing coalition in talks with the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI), a main faction in the INA, which opposed backing Maliki for a second term.
 
Both Maliki's and Allawi's groups are trying to woo the Kurds, whose 57 or so seats would give either the muscle needed to form Iraq's next government.
 
Politicians welcomed the court's ruling as a step towards ending the deadlock.
 
"The National Alliance is ready to attend the session once we are invited because we have decided on our candidate for prime minister and there is no problem in attending the session," said Amir al-Kinani of the bloc loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, one of the Shi'ite groups that joined the National Alliance.
 
Khalid Shwani, a Kurdish lawmaker, said the Kurdish alliance was also ready to attend, and would demand the presidency.
 
As before, the parliamentary session is likely to produce results only if the politicians reach a "package deal" distributing all the key positions. Otherwise they may just delay the session again if there is no quorum.
 
"There are political obstacles, not legal obstacles, to holding a session," said Ezz al-Din al-Dawla of Iraqiya.
 
"Who will become the parliament speaker with political parties not agreeing on all the posts yet? It is not that easy."

 

Date created : 2010-10-25

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