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Disputes Linger in Iraq over Positions of President, Premier, Parliament Speaker

Disputes Linger in Iraq over Positions of President, Premier, Parliament Speaker

Friday, 31 December, 2021 - 07:15
Iraqi President Salih (L) and PM Kadhimi. (Reuters file photo)

Iraqi President Barham Salih announced on Thursday that the newly-elected parliament will convene its first meeting on January 9.

The legislature will meet in spite of persistent disputes between the country's main Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs over the formation of a new government and amid a debate over whether to renew the terms of or elect a new president, prime minister and parliament speaker.

These disputes are set to dominate the discussions on January 9.

In a social media post, Salih hoped a new government would be formed smoothly so that it could assume its role in bolstering Iraq's sovereignty and serving its people.

This demands solidarity in order to achieve the desired reforms, he stressed.

The parliament meeting will unlikely lead to the election of a new speaker given the ongoing disputes between the Taqadom alliance, headed by incumbent Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, and the Azm alliance, headed by Khamis Khanjar.

Halbousi is hoping his term will be renewed.

Reports have said that Halbousi and Khanjar had reached an agreement that would see the former keep his position, while the latter would be appointed as one of his deputies.

Several Azm lawmakers have objected to Halbousi's election to a second term. They have suggested three replacements: Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, Khaled al-Obaidi and Thabet al-Abbasi.

As for the position of prime minister, the largest parliamentary bloc usually announces its preferred candidate.

The post is also at the center of heated dispute between Shiite blocs - namely the Sadrist movement, the winner of the elections, and the Coordination Framework, a coalition of pro-Iran factions and the losers of the elections.

Head of the Sadrist movement, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is insisting that his bloc, which won 75 seats, is entitled to naming the premier. The Coordination Framework is, however, insisting on naming the candidate.

Sadr has cited a constitutional article that stipulates that the largest bloc has the right to name the prime minister.

PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi could be reappointed to his post given the support he enjoys from Sadr. Some factions of the Coordination Framework want him out.

Meanwhile, the position of president is reserved to a Kurdish figure. Salih has not hidden his ambition to be elected to a second term.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party, headed by Masoud Barzani, however, is hoping to nominate a new figure to the post, preferably someone from his party or the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

Members of the PUK have said, however, that they would nominate Salih for a second term, paving the way for a potential dispute with Barzani.

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