Iraq and Gulf Analysis

A Certified Mess (Updated)

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 1 June 2010 15:13

The Iraqi federal supreme court has today ratified the final result of the 7 March elections – sort of. The caveats relate to two of the 325 candidates that were not approved, Furat al-Sharaa of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) in Basra, and Umar Abd al-Sattar al-Karbuli, a compensation seat appointee of Iraqiyya. The two men could be disqualified on the basis of membership of the armed forces and legal verdicts respectively, and their cases remain pending.

The following discrepancies from the provisional final result released on 26 March can be noted from press reports pending publication of the revised list of seat winners by the Iraqi election commission (IHEC):

–  There has been no word on Raad al-Bayati, an Iraqiyya candidate in Diyala who was initially among the 52 post-election de-Baathifications, and the hypothesis must be that he has been reinstated by the appeals court.

– Abdallah al-Jibburi and Najm al-Harbi of Iraqiyya in Diyala were apparently replaced by others from their lists before the result was sent to the court for certification, all with reference to past convictions (or in the case of Harbi, an arrest warrant).

–  The 7 compensation seats have been allocated as per earlier reports to two candidates with Turkmen connections in State of Law, to Humam Hamudi (ISCI) and a Sadrist for INA, to Fuad Masum for the Kurds and to Muhammad Allawi, a relation of Ayyad Allawi for Iraqiyya. Iraqiyya has yet to fill the latest compensation seat after Karbuli was disqualified.

-If excluded, Furat al-Sharaa of ISCI in Basra is likely to be replaced by Ahmad al-Khafaji of Badr, who got around 12,000 personal votes.

–  IHEC has said the two latest potential disqualifications, if implemented,  will lead to replacements by their own lists. This is good as far as democratic theory is concerned, but it creates a major inconsistency in the result in that 52 of the post-election exclusions reportedly resulted in votes  being annulled (though no seats changed, but that was simply due to the low number of personal votes involved), whereas the rest of the post-election disqualifications did not prompt a recalculation of the electoral divider. It is noteworthy that the exclusion of Sharaa from INA had been sought by the other major Shiite-led bloc, the State of Law alliance (SLA) with which it is supposedly on its way to a merger. The fact that Sharaa of INA was in fact disqualified is an interesting testament to persistent friction between INA and SLA. It is noteworthy too that if implemented on the pattern of the 52 other exclusions (as per the SLA request), the Basra result would have changed and because of the electoral divider SLA would have won a seat and Iraqiyya (rather than INA) could have lost one.

–  In the election law there is a demand that all candidate requirements (not being subject to de-Baathification, not being a member of the armed forces etc.) be treated equally. Also there is no mention of post-election disqualification leading to annulment of votes. Both these principles have been sinned against in a politicised way during the process of certifying the result and the suggestion heard by UNAMI and the US government that the elections have been done in accordance with the adopted procedures seems to rest on a shaky basis.

– In an apparent attempt by the federal supreme court to rectify some of this, Ibrahim al-Mutlak of Iraqiyya, who had been excluded in the revised list of winners that emerged after the Baghdad recount, has been reinstated and his replacement loses his seat. This looks like a positive move and would go some way towards repairing the damage, even if only a restoration of all the votes of the 52 excluded candidates would create some consistency in the result and put a decisive end to the machinations of the de-Baathification committee (which invented the idea of penalising entities rather than candidates).

The presidency council now has to call parliament to convene within 15 days.

14 Responses to “A Certified Mess (Updated)”

  1. Jason said

    To clarify, are you saying that the parliament can now be formally seated, even with the two rejections? Or does there have to be final certification of their replacements?

  2. Reidar Visser said

    The message was that the seating of the COR could go ahead, since certification of the replacements might take some time.

  3. Ali W said

    Reidar, so this in theory will be a kick up the backside of the Iraqi parties to get their act together, right? From what I remember reading in this blog, after the parliament convenes, it will have 30 days to choose a President, and then the President will choose someone to form the next Iraqi government. So in theory we should know in 45 days whether it will be INM or SLA that will be tasked with this process.

  4. Reidar Visser said

    In theory, that’s just about right. The presidency council has got 15 days to summon parliament (16 June), and then parliament has got 30 days to choose the president (15 July). The president can take 14 days to ponder who the PM nominee should be, possibly taking us into August.

    But as said earlier, that first meeting of parliament in 2006 lasted for some 50 days from mid-March to late April, so you may prefer not to hold your breath.

  5. Jason said

    I think that being able to present a candidate for PM should be a requirement to be considered a kutla that deserves a shot at forming a govt. Unless and until SLA/INA agree on a candidate, Allawi deserves the first shot, as the candidate with the greatest numerical support.

    As a practical matter, SLA and INA probably can muster the votes to elect the first President. Which means that Allawi likely will not be given first opportunity.

    My question: If there is still no SLA/INA nominee, then who exactly does the President task to form the govt? Maliki? Jafaree? al Mahdi? SLA/INA does not even have a firm governing structure to hand off the responsibility to, does it? If the President is allowed to choose who to hand the duty off to, then choosing a President becomes tantamount to choosing their PM candidate.

  6. David said

    Reidar, am I correct in thinking that that the new speaker will need to be elected prior to the President, and as an interim measure the oldest CoR member will perform this role – indecently do you know who this will be?

  7. Reidar Visser said

    Jason, the president is supposed to charge “the candidate of the biggest bloc”. If there is no candidate for the biggest bloc then he cannot charge them. But if INA+SLA has no candidate then effectively they have failed in their ambitions to be a kutla and Iraqiyya is definitely biggest.

    David, the oldest member will just chair the first meeting and as you say this is devoted to finding a speaker. I have no idea who the oldest will be (Pachachi was not elected this time) but I doubt that the presidency council will convene a meeting of parliament unless there are at least a couple of speaker candidates.

  8. Jason said

    In that case, all the excitement over an SLA/INA merger was definitely premature. I still think the SLA/INA dilemma of agreeing to a candidate is bigger than Maliki. If he were out of the picture, they would still have a problem choosing between someone that would continue to contain Sadr’s rogue army versus one that would release it back into streets to resume their mafia-like power and plunder.

  9. Jason said

    I don’t see how they get around that issue. Either they get turned loose, or they don’t.

  10. Safwan Mudhafar said

    Dear Reidar,

    It has been suggested that Hasan Al-Alawi of AlIraqiya is the oldest member and will chair the first session. Just a small correction if I may, the compensatory seat for AlIraqiya went to Muhammad Allawi, former Communications Minister and not Hasan Allawi.

    Thanks,

  11. observer said

    hassan alwi (Iraqia) is oldest (born 1934).

    with respect to SLA/INA. The struggle from before the elections is how the PM is going to be selected. Let me remind you again that Da3wa insisted on 50%+1 (they assumed that the list would be closed). INA gave them 48%, but no more. This issue is TRUST in Da3wa and Maliki. INA will not give Da3wa and Maliki the PM position. Da3wa has to make the calculation (and they do not have much time) if it is better for them to be “second fiddle) in the coalition, or largest opposition. This is the choice they have to make.

    Kurds, Iraqia and INA are convinced that if Da3wa gets another 4 years of control on government, they will be as entrenched as the Baath were by 1975. In my opinion, if you analyze the events with that filter in mind, then you will understand the dynamics and pronouncements. Now let us see who is going to blink first, INA or SLA? Why? Because despite the above, i still do not think that either INA or SLA would want to give the PM to Allawi.

  12. Reidar Visser said

    Safwan, thanks for the correction which I have now fixed. I am well aware of the fact that the intellectual and historian Hasan al-Alawi ( علوي ) is a different person and a different family, but I mixed up the first names when I wrote the article in a hurry. From looking at their full names I assume that Ayyad A and Muhammad A have the same grandfather, Husayn Allawi حسين علاوي

  13. Jason said

    Observer, you make it sound like Maliki is more of a danger to Iraqi democracy than INA. Are you saying Iraqis would do better to TRUST INA’s clerics? Do you honestly believe that Sadr’s intentions are more benevolent? Do you favor of releasing his goons back into the streets? If so, you must be naive and ignorant of what has taken place before when Sadrists gained power, both legal and de facto in the streets.

  14. mostafa said

    Jason,
    I think that no one wants or is capable of releasing Mahdi Army back into streets.
    ISCI was very supportive to Maliki in “Sawlat Alforsan” operation of March 2008, so did Iran.
    The Sadrists themselves will not try to do so, because they knew that Maliki gained most of his popularity from “Sawlat Alforsan” at the expense of theirs.

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