Allawi’s Secularists call for Caretaker Gov’t, New Elections

The London pan-Arab daily al-Hayat [Life] reports in Arabic that the appeals court will issue its judgment on the coming Monday, May 3, concerning whether 9 candidates should have been allowed to run for parliament and whether they should now be disqualified, as urged by the Justice and Accountability Committee (formerly the Debaathification Committee). So says Ali al-Lami, the executive director of the committee. Those singled out for disqualification are accused of links to or sympathies with the deposed Baath Party that ruled Iraq 1968-2003. But the criteria for disqualification appear to be less than rigorous; even publically questioning the wisdom of excluding so many ex-Baathists from public office is apparently sufficient.

Since 7 of the 9 ran on the Iraqiya List of former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, the ruling could well have an impact on the shape of the next Iraqi government. It had earlier been asserted that parties with disqualified candidates would not lose the seat that was won, and so would be enabled to appoint a substitute who would serve in the same party. But recently the appeals court and al-Lami have begun insisting that the seat itself would be lost and the votes thrown out, of voters who cast their ballots for a subsequently disqualified candidate.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday urged all parties to respect the results of the March 7 election.

Allawi’s secular, Arab nationalist list currently has 91 seats out of the 325 in parliament, and by the constiitution would be asked first to try to form a government, since his is the largest single party. If his party loses 7 seats, it would fall to only 85, less than the Shiite fundamentalist State of Law coalition headed by incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which currently has 89 seats. In this case, al-Maliki would get first shot at forming a government, which is what al-Lami is apparently angling at with these disqualifications. Al-Lami is himself a member of the fundamentalist Shiite Iraqi National Alliance and is close to Iran, which would like to see the two major Shiite parties form a coalition, in alliance with the Kurds. He is supported by Ahmad Chalabi, who was once convicted of embezzling $300 million from his own bank in Jordan, and fed the US phony intel on Iraq to get up the war. He is close to Iran.

The Iraqiya party, in response to these maneuvers, issued a statement calling for ‘responsible officials to cease procedures that aim at changing the outcome of th elections and stealing the votes of voters via political purges, incarceration, and sly accusations that insult the candidates and the supporters of the Iraqiya list.” It called for Iraqiya members who had been arrested to be freed immediately and rejected any “tampering with the results of the election.” The statement said that the Iraqiya Party would now go to the Security Council of the United Nations, to the European Union, and to the Arab League to demand that a caretaker government be installed and that the parliamentary elections be held all over again. It called upon the three-man presidency council, as the guardian of the constitution, to instruct the present parliament to continue its duties until the new one is seated. (The Council consists of president Jalal Talabani and his two vice-presidents, Adil Abdul Mahdi of the Shiite fundamentalist Iraqi National Alliance and Tariq al-Hashimi of Allawi’s Iraqiya party.)

Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that the State of Law coalition issued a counter-statement saying that installing an interim government would be unconstitutional. In recent Iraqi practice the old government stays in power until replaced by a new one.

This party communique indicates that Allawi and his Sunni Arab and secular Shiite backers are now convinced that the effort to marginalize them and ensure that their achievement of a slight plurality in the voting will be set aside.

I have said that I don’t think this wrangling will reignite the civil war. But it could give Sunni insurgents renewed credibility. (If the new government is the result of tampering, wouldn’t it be legitimate to take up arms against it?)

Both the Shiite-dominated judiciary and Allawi are being highly irresponsible, and risking further destabilizing Iraq.

5 Responses

  1. “If his party loses 7 seats, it would fall to only 85, less than the Shiite fundamentalist State of Law coalition headed by incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which currently has 89 seats. In this case, Allawi would get first shot at forming a government, which is what al-Lami is apparently angling at with these disqualifications.”

    I pressume you ment al-Maliki in the last sentence. Best regards from Slovakia.
    Martin Macko

  2. What I find very peculiar about these results is that Allawi’s party seems to have ‘run the board’ in Sunni areas. If this is the case it is extraordinary given his role in Fallujah, his record in office and his known links with western intelligence. It seems to me that the vote is very suspicious, certainly, for all those who scrutinised Iran’s recent polls with such attention to minute detail, this calls for explanation.
    On the other hand I know very little about the detail of these results.

  3. Allawi as I understand it won over Sunni voters by being a secularist and being a nationalist (not in Iran’s pocket, as Maliki is seen to be) — Apparently they also as a block decided to make their electoral presence felt — so they came out to vote in great numbers.

    I was asking about the census recently and I am also surprised that a minority which has continually shrunk from day one of our invasion when it was portrayed as being just somewhat less a percentage of the population conmpared to the oppressed Shi’ia majority — something like 50% shi’ia, 40% sunni , 10% kurd, irrc — slipping all the way down to a frequently cited 20% for the last few years, post-debaathification, etc.

    Several million Iraqi’s (who I suspect are probably mostly Sunni) are holed up in Syria and Jordan and elsewhere in the Sunni sphere (not in Shi’ia Iran thank you very much) and while they were supposed to be counted in the census, I have yet to hear the results.

    In any event, it may be that the discrepancy wrt “voter turnout” made “all the difference.” (Oddly enough this critical census was the reason we initially delayed elections back when Allawi was last in power — it was then delayed a few years and verrry slowly completed .) Fishy – no?

    I’m not sure how Allawi is being reckless here — Imho, it is Maliki who by demanding expanded recounts and going along with day late-dollar short after the fact disqualification of candiates is courting trouble — creating a “dead space” for bad-actors to exploit.

    ymmv

  4. Juan – You say you believe that this issue won’t reignite the civil war? But if Maliki does indeed have his way, and shuts out Allawi (and by extension, any effective Sunni representation in the new government); and if the Kurds continue to hang tough in the Ninevah governorate disputed territories and on the Kirkuk issue (further angering Sunnis in those parts of Iraq) – you truly don’t see the possibility of Iraq settling into a low-grade civil war? Or at least one serious enough to prevent the Baghdad government from governing effectively in the foreseeable future?

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