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Iraqi government, parliament working together to pass bills

The pace of completion of pending legislation is quickening amid noticeable cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of the current government.
Iraq Sudani

BAGHDAD — Iraq's government and parliament are cooperating to move legislation along, as all sides are aware that any weakness will negatively affect both parties.

A couple of weeks after the vote of confidence for Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s government, the House of Representatives completed the readings of several bills, including the Federal Civil Service Draft Law, which aims to modernize the administrative system of the state.

The House also finished the first reading of a law to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other draft laws, including one on partnership between the public and private sectors. It also discussed the draft law of the National Authority for Nuclear, Radiological, Chemical and Biological Oversight.

On Nov. 21, Parliament was scheduled to discuss the Draft Cybercrime Law, the Draft Great Imam College Law and the draft law regulating wages for services in centrally funded state departments.

An agreement between parliament and the prime minister has been reportedly reached concerning the need to submit the federal budget law for the year 2023.

Sudani's Iraqi government recently gained confidence from the House of Representatives, which  is dominated by the Coordination Framework forces. These include the State of Law Coalition led by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Fatah Alliance, representing the Popular Mobilization Forces, which nominated Sudani for the position along with its allies in the State Administration Coalition.

Besides the Coordination Framework, which has 138 MPs out of 329, the State Administration Coalition includes the Sovereignty Alliance led by Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi, as well as the two main Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

There is very little organized opposition following the resignation of members of the Sadrist bloc from parliament in June.

In parallel with the passage of pending laws, Sudani withdrew a number of draft laws, including the compulsory military service law, which sparked widespread controversy.

Other withdrawn bills included proposals related to housing abuses, the Reconstruction Council, the list of ambassadors, and amendments to the Corporate Law, the Iraqi National Oil Company Law, the Public Roads Law and the Federal Civil Service Law.

Legal expert Ali Al-Tamimi said that the cabinet’s decision to withdraw draft laws is permissible, since House of Representatives bylaws allow the government "to withdraw draft laws based on an official letter as long as no more than one reading has been given to such laws.” Bills can be resubmitted to parliament once amendments are made.

Alia Nassif, an Iraqi MP, told Al-Monitor that the House has indeed returned these draft laws to the Council of Ministers “to determine the extent of their consistency and conformity with the specified program.” She also deemed the procedure correct.

The Sudani government, which does not belong to a winning parliamentary bloc, has still put forward an ambitious program.  to serve as a “service government” that provides job opportunities and supports poor classes.

Maintaining the political harmony with the House of Representatives will be a challenge, especially with regard to strategic legislation such as the oil and gas law, which is expected to be legislated in the next six months.

The oil and gas law, which has been hampered since 2005 due to disputes with the Kurdish forces, stipulates that oil fields management must be entrusted to a national oil company. This implies that Baghdad is responsible for oil in Kurdistan, a point that Erbil rejects.

Another draft laws that may pose challenge to Sudani’s government is the Federation Council law, as the Iraqi constitution stipulates that the federal legislative authority is composed of the House of Representatives and the Federation Council, which has not been formed and whose law is yet to be legislated.

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