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Iraq: Govt Crisis Back to Square One After President Threatened to Resign

Iraq: Govt Crisis Back to Square One After President Threatened to Resign

Saturday, 28 December, 2019 - 11:15
A poster of Asaad al-Edani, Basra governor and a candidate for the prime minister office during ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad (Reuters)

The Iraq crisis has aggravated as the country remains without a prime minister after President Barham Salih threatened to resign and rejected al-Binaa Coalition’s candidate, Basra governor Asaad al-Eidani, to form a government.


Barham’s intention to resign divided Iraqi forces and people and brought the crisis back to square one.


Al-Binaa coalition strongly criticized the announcement, demanding that legal measures be taken to vote on the president’s dismissal, whereas the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr announced his support for Saleh.


In addition, al-Nasr Bloc, led by Haider al-Abadi, al-Hikma Bloc, led by Ammar al-Hakim, and al-Wataniya, led by Ayad Allawi, were in favor of Saleh's move.


Kurdish blocs did not announce an explicit position on Saleh’s intention to resign, while Alliance of Iraqi Forces, representing major Sunni Arab members of parliament, announced their support to Binaa including proceeding with measures to impeach the president, which seem almost impossible amid political, ethnic, and sectarian division.


Meanwhile, the Supreme Religious Authority in Najaf, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, announced that the Friday sermon in Karbala will not address the political issue.


Sistani's representative in Karbala, Ahmed al-Safi, only gave a religious sermon and emphasized that the problem is with the people who do not listen to the sound of reason.


Binaa, which still considers itself the largest parliamentary bloc, declared that the President isn't adhering to the constitutional deadlines and wants to waste time.


Binaa issued a statement saying it provided Saleh with evidence proving it is the largest bloc, especially that he pledged to form the government chaired by the candidate named by the largest bloc.


The coalition was surprised by Saleh's insistence on violating the constitution and failing to assign the candidate on the pretext that he is rejected by some political parties.


The statement renewed the coalition's full commitment to the constitutional contexts emphasized by the Religious Authority, and rejected any process to circumvent the constitution.


It added that violating the constitution from the party that is supposed to be protecting it, could lead to chaos in the country, calling upon the parliament to take legal measures against the President for violating the constitution.


Leader of the Sadrist movement responded to Binaa’s statement and asserted his support to the President. Sadr went further and nominated three persons to head the government: intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kazmi, former head of the Iraqi Integrity Commission Judge Rahim al-Aqili, and a controversial member of the Iraqi parliament, Faiq al-Sheikh Ali.


However, Sadr dropped his support to any of the candidates after none of them received popular acceptance.


Meanwhile, some parties and armed factions began accusing the President of being subjected to US and European pressure in terms of imposing a certain candidate close to Washington.


Other blocs hinted that there is some sort of implicit understanding between Sadr and Saleh in terms of favoring a candidate.


Nominating three candidates and then dropping them in less than 24 hours means something being planned that will be revealed during the coming days, especially that Saleh did not announce a clear resignation.


Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, former member of the parliament Haider al-Molla called upon Binaa to concede for the sake of the people, because if that happens, it will be in their interest in such a decisive period in the country's history.


Molla noted that “resorting to the street” as an option and adhering to the directives of the Religious Authority could solve the crisis, as reforming the system is a priority on electoral gains.


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