Iraq and Gulf Analysis

The Iraqi Parliament Declares Itself Above the Constitution and Its Own Laws

Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 8 March 2011 17:28

It is not a good omen: In the context of unprecedented political anger in the Iraqi streets, parliament today voted to ignore the country’s constitution and its own laws.  In a ruling on the validity of deputy replacements that occurred subsequent to the formation of the Maliki government last December (i.e. deputies who joined the government and gave up their seats in parliament to be replaced by others), both constitutional and legal provisions were conveniently sidestepped.

Specifically, in today’s ruling, parliament validated the memberships in the assembly of six deputies against whom objections had been raised: Jawad al-Bulani, Faris al-Sinjari, Mina Salih Mahdi, Muhammad al-Hindawi, Abdallah Khalaf Muhammad and Jawad Ghanim al-Shuhayli. At least three of those cases (Bulani, Hindawi and Shuhayli) represent flagrant violations of the law on parliamentary replacement since the new deputies are from a different governorate than the original deputy. The constitutional provision for one deputy per 100,000 Iraqis – as reflected in the distribution key for deputies per governorates – is thereby also violated.

Additionally, there are replacement cases that should have been challenged, but haven’t. Most prominently, they include Salim al-Jibburi of Tawafuq; a Diyala candidate who replaced a Salahhadin candidate. It is also unclear what happened to Daghir al-Musawi, who was supposed to replace a National Alliance candidate of the “Hizbollah in Iraq” party, but whose name is not to be found in the latest list of parliament members. It is possible that the National Alliance changed its mind in this case; if he had been made a deputy it would have been another violation of the rules since Musawi was a candidate in Basra and not in Maysan.

What today’s vote shows is that once more the Iraqi political elite is unable to rise above camaraderie and cliquishness and make a principled stand on legal and constitutional issues. Until this tendency goes away, it seems unlikely that the assembly will be able to make the transition from serving its own interests to serving the people it is supposed to represent.

7 Responses to “The Iraqi Parliament Declares Itself Above the Constitution and Its Own Laws”

  1. amagi said

    What have the reactions on the ground been to this development? Do the people understand that the very notion of the rule of law is at stake?

  2. Muhaned said

    Dear Visser
    Good analysis reading to what happened in The Iraqi Parliament , I will try , If I have time, to write article about this blatant violation which committed by what so -called representative of Iraqi people


  3. Reidar Visser said

    Amagi, there have been a few local-level protests in Salahaddin governorate, which lost two deputies during the process. Other than that, not very much, and apparently the Iraqi press is either ignorant about the issue or does not dare challenging the political establishment with overt criticism related to the replacements.

  4. Hayder al-Khoei said

    Thanks for this Reidar, I blogged it in the British Iraqi Forum.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    You’re absolutely right Hayder, Where is the outrage?
    I’m posting the link here for the convenience of readers:

  6. Samir Abdallah said

    Is the parliament decision final in this case? Can the issue be raised to the supreme federal court since it represents a constitution violation?

  7. Reidar Visser said

    The supreme court had itself approved the procedure with reference to a constitutional clause that gives parliament the right to validate its own membership. However, appeals relating to that vote can be brought before the court, which will now have the delicate choice of supporting parliament or upholding the constitution.

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