ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Two months have passed since opponents of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Maliki met in Erbil to discuss unseating him through a no-confidence vote.
Maliki’s hold over his post remains precarious, with a Kurdish MP saying that the prime minister will receive a letter on July 10 summoning him to parliament in the next effort to remove him from power.
Farhad Atrushi, member of the Kurdistan Alliance and a legal committee formed to investigate ways to withdraw confidence from Maliki, told Rudaw, “All the procedures to summon the PM have been completed.”
“The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) [two major parties in the Kurdistan Alliance] are now in agreement and insist that Maliki has to be summoned to parliament and removed from office.” Atrushi said.
Senior officials from the Kurdistan Alliance, Iraqiya Bloc and Sadr Movement met on April 28 and requested Maliki be removed from power because he breeched agreements he had signed with his allies and was making decisions unilaterally. Furthermore, the groups agreed, Maliki was placing Iraqi ministries and security agencies under his direct control.
However, Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadr Movement recently surprised Kurdish and Sunni leaders by saying that “if Maliki carries out reforms, I will try to convince the Kurds and Iraqiya Bloc to drop their attempts to remove him.”
In response, Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, told Rudaw, “The Sadrists have backed away from the attempt to remove Maliki.”
Hussein said that the Sadrists have tempered their participation in the effort to oust Maliki.
“If the issue is collecting signatures, we can now collect enough. But when it comes to voting, I don’t know who will vote in favor of the case or not. Therefore, until the actual voting takes place, we won’t have a clear view on the issue,” Hussein added.
Abdul Sattar Bayati, a senior official from Sadr’s faction in Iraqi Parliament, confirms their stance on the issue, saying they have not given up on the attempt to unseat Maliki.
“Maliki must be removed from office. Whenever 124 votes in favor of withdrawing confidence are collected, we will add the other 40 votes needed. His Excellency Muqtada Sadr has already said this.” Bayati said.
Meanwhile, Bayati said, to save himself Maliki might respond to the recommendations of a reform committee set up by the National Alliance Coalition and the demands of the Erbil meeting.
“If Maliki implements Iraqi constitutional articles, Article 140, approves the oil and gas project and does a few other minor things, then there will be no need to remove him from office,” Bayati said.
For his part, PM Maliki has refused to attend parliament, unless two conditions are met. First, that parliament fixes its own issues, and second: that the current parliament be abolished and a snap election take place.
On this issue, Hussein says, “Maliki does not recognize parliament, and this is a big problem.”
However, Ahmed Massari, a senior official of the Iraqiya Bloc, says, “Parliament will summon Maliki for questioning. After questioning, MPs will vote on whether to withdraw confidence from him or not.”
Massari told Rudaw that, if Maliki refuses to attend parliament, “the parliament will proceed with voting in his absence.”
Moayad Teyib, spokesman for the Kurdistan Alliance in Iraqi Parliament, said that although Maliki can request the dissolution of parliament, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has to approve and send the request to parliament. After this, 164 votes are needed in favor of abolishing parliament before it can be dissolved.
“I do not think the Iraqi president would approve such a request. And even if he approved it, Maliki would not be able to collect 164 votes in favor of abolishment.” Teyib said.