Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who is a Sunni Arab, has vetoed the election law recently passed by parliament. Iraq has a president (currently a Kurd, Jalal Talabani) and two vice presidents (the other is Adil Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq). Al-Hashimi reportedly dislikes being call the “Sunni vice president,” but that is certainly how he acted with his veto. In the Iraqi constitution, the president and the two vice presidents function as a “presidential council” who are supposed to decide whether parliamentary legislation should be approved or not. Iraqi practice has been to read the constitution to require that the presidential council pass legislation unanimously, creating a veto power for each of the three members.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (from the Shiite fundamentalist Da’wa or Islamic Mission Party) criticized al-Hashimi’s move, calling it a “dire threat” to the political process. He asked the Iraqi High Electoral Commission to continue to prepare to have elections in January. The Commission, however, announced that it was halting all arrangements for the election “without delay.” But the High Electoral Commission instead said that it was ceasing preparation for the elections, scheduled for mid-January.
The move threatens to postpone the elections and even to create a political vacuum and create a constitutional vacuum.
Al-Hashimi said he did not intend to veto the bill in toto, just the part of it that specifies that Iraqis in exile abroad will fill only 5% of seats. Since there are thought to be over a million Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan, and since most are Sunnis, this provision reduces the weight of the Sunni Arabs in the election. Al-Hashimi wants the proportion of seats set aside for expatriates and religious minorities set at 10% or 15% instead.
Al-Zaman writing in Arabic stressed that Gen. Ray Odierno said that no big decisions about the pace of American withdrawal have to be made until spring, 2010, so that a slight delay in the holding of the parliamentary election would not much affect US troops.
Meanwhile, US military suicides are headed for a record, provoking dismay and puzzlement at the Pentagon.
End/ (Not Continued)