Iraqi Lawmakers Move Closer To Maliki No-Confidence Vote

An alliance is beginning to take shape in Iraq that may be able to secure the 164 parliamentary votes necessary to withdraw confidence from Nouri al-Maliki’s government, writes Karim Abdzaair. Islamic political leader Muqtada al-Sadr has promised "that if [my partners] secure 124 votes, then I will provide the rest."

al-monitor Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki speaks during a meeting with tribal leaders in Mosul, north of Baghdad, May 29 2012. Photo by REUTERS/STRINGER Iraq.

Topics covered

najaf conference, nouri al-maliki, najaf, massoud barzani, jalal talabani, erbil conference, erbil, dawa party

May 31, 2012

A Kurdistan Alliance deputy declared on May 30 that Iraq President Jalal Talabani agreed to put Nouri al-Maliki’s government up for a confidence vote if 164 deputies sign a petition committing them to voting “no.” That afternoon, Talabani was at a meeting at the Dukan resort in Sulaymaniyah discussing the country’s political crisis. Also present were the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani; president of the Iraqi List Iyad Allawi; House Speaker Osama Najafi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. Prior to the meeting, Talabani and Barzani met behind closed doors and discussed withdrawing confidence from Maliki’s government in particular, as well as the overall Iraqi political crisis. Deputy Farhad al-Atrushi said that Talabani would support the motion for a confidence vote on the condition that 164 deputy signatures are collected. Al-Atrushi added that political leaders met in Dukan to voice their readiness to collect these signatures. Clearly, Iraq’s political crisis may end up paralyzing both the government and parliament, as well as fragmenting central government institutions.
Information was leaked out of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah about the two meetings between Talabani and Barzani, saying that Talabani will request a confidence vote from Parliament Speaker Osama Najafi, who will then forward the request to parliament, where the vote would take place in a special session.

The National Iraqi Alliance responded to anti-Maliki political activities by sending their president, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, to meet with US ambassador in Iraq James Jeffrey to discuss the political crisis in Iraq. Khadr Khuzai, a member of the National Iraqi Alliance’s presidential council and another pole within the Alliance, met with UN representative in Iraq Martin Cooper to discuss the crisis. These were the first two meetings that the Iraqi National Alliance held with US and UN representatives after the Alliance explicitly rejected internationalizing the crisis, one which it considers to be purely internal.

Responding to a question from one of his supporters about withdrawing a confidence vote on Maliki’s government, Islamic political leader Muqtada al-Sadr stated, “No, this is not true. I promised my partners that if they secure 124 votes, then I will provide the rest to reach 164 votes.” A successful no-confidence motion requires "one-half, plus one" of the 325 parliament deputies. Al-Sadr asserted that “this is a promise that I shall keep, unlike the former jihadist movement which has unfortunately rejected all other reforms,” referring to Maliki’s Islamic Dawa Party. Al-Sadr’s political movement has 40 deputies and is the most prominent component of the ruling National Iraqi Alliance, which includes Maliki’s party. Al-Sadr’s movement was present at the Kurdistan meetings along with many other national leaders. The meetings, which excluded Maliki, resulted in a nine-point request that Maliki is to implement. Al-Sadr, who accused Maliki of monopolizing power, hosted a similar meeting at his Najaf headquarters.

On May 29, Erbil hosted the first consultative meeting between the Kurdistan Alliance, the Iraqi List and the Sadrist movement. Barzani, Allawi, Najafi and Saleh al-Mutlaq were all present at the meeting. They discussed the national crisis and urged implementing the Erbil and Najaf declarations. According to the president’s press secretary, Makok Sheikh Muhammad, Talabani and Barzani held a consultative meeting in the Dukan resort in Sulaymaniyah to discuss the country’s current crisis. Makok Sheikh Muhammad said that the meeting included Talabani and Barzani, members of the Iraqi National Alliance’s political bureau and leaders from the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Iraqi List deputy Ahmad al-Massari said that the political discussions included preparing an alternative government, for which there are several potential nominees that the political parties can select. He said that Najafi will soon call for a special parliament session to settle the matter, and that yesterday’s discussions went beyond the topic of withdrawing confidence from Maliki.

Meanwhile, the people of Taji and Saba Jawr held protests on May 30 demanding that Maliki place Brigadier Riad Abdul Amir under a military investigation for forcing innocent people to sign confessions in order to widen the probe of Leith Dulaimi (member-elect to the Baghdad Provincial Council) and detaining them on terrorism charges. The residents of Taji, which is adjacent to some of the most important military camps in Baghdad, have threatened to escalate their efforts to win the release of the detainees, and to refer their grievances to the United Nations via their representatives in Baghdad.

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