National Unity Conclave Will Go 'Nowhere,' Iraq Sadrists Say

Article Summary
Iraq's ruling National Alliance and President Jalal Talabani have called for a national unity conference for its fractious and divided political blocs. But Hussein Ali Dawed reports that a number of parties, including some within the alliance itself, say the gathering would achieve nothing.

According to the parliamentary al-Ahrar bloc, which is affiliated with the Sadrist Movement, the national conference — to be held at the request of President Jalal Talabani — will not achieve anything. Meanwhile, the bloc is seeking to set the protocol of the National Alliance to which it is affiliated so that the bloc is no longer subjected to will or decision of its components.

Talabani has been seeking for several months to bring together different political blocs in order to hold the national conference, called for by the National Alliance. However, the president’s attempts have so far been in vain.

In a statement issued yesterday [Nov. 5], the head of the al-Ahrar bloc MP Bahaa al-Araji said that “the national conference, if it were to be held, will lead to nowhere … as political blocs and their leaders do not have any real intention to end their political differences.

“Some are playing for time and waiting for regional events to unfold. However, as Iraqis, we ought to focus on the situation of Iraq and Iraqi citizens. We ought to provide them with services, be it security services or something else.

“As Iraqi nationals, all political blocs and leaders must be part of this [national] project. But unfortunately, it has been revealed through past experiences that many blocs are committed to foreign agendas,” he said.

Araji added that “the solution to all political problems must lie in the constitution. Unfortunately, the constitutional articles are being interpreted differently by each party, at their own discretion. For instance, Article 14 of the constitution is interpreted differently by the Kurdish Alliance, the Iraqi List and the National Alliance. Similarly, the National Alliance does not construe the issue of gas and oil and the deadlines to this effect as does the Kurdish Alliance.”

Al-Ahrar’s position against the national conference came as a surprise, since the bloc is considered as a key component of the National Alliance, which called for such a meeting.

According to MP Hakem al-Zamili, a member of al-Ahrar, the bloc has completed drafting its protocol, which is to be ratified shortly. The protocol aims to make the bloc an institution that is managed in accordance with regulations and not personal whims.

Zamili added to Al-Hayat that “the committee in charge of preparing the National Alliance protocol has already finished its work, although the protocol was scheduled to be set when the bloc was formed following the legislative elections in 2010.”

“Al-Ahrar bloc was the first to emphasize the need of a protocol for the largest bloc in parliament.

“During the past periods, some parties within the alliance attempted to dominate the decisions of the bloc at the expense of the rest of the members. The protocol will set limits and defense the rights and duties of each party and prevent marginalization,” he added.

Moreover, Al-Hayat learned that parliament will receive the draft federal budget for next year from the government during its resumed session. Parliament has also many delayed draft laws to tackle. Most important among them are general amnesty, infrastructure, the federal budget and federal court.

According to a high-ranking government source, the draft law provides for a $118 billiion budget. He also expressed hope that the budget will be swiftly adopted, without any political speculations.

It must be noted that on Oct. 23, the cabinet approved to increase the budget bill by 18% compared to last year.

Parliament spokesman, MP Mohammed al-Khalidi told Al-Hayat that the parliament presidency, including the leaders of the different political blocs, was to meet this morning to discuss the deferred draft laws.

“Parliament will convene following the meeting of the parliament presidency to discuss a number of draft laws, in addition to discussing the policy of the Central Bank of Iraq and the recent event that have taken place in the wake of the dismissal of the bank governor, Sinan al-Shabibi, who has been replaced,” Khalidi added.

Found in: al-ahrar bloc

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