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Tampering with the Political Process in Iraq - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Everybody was surprised when Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s bloc objected to the recounting methodology in Baghdad, bearing in mind that it was Al-Maliki’s Bloc that insisted on the recount in the first place!

The current recounting will take at least three weeks, and if the new appeal is sustained the recounting will take long months, because in order to satisfy Al-Maliki’s bloc this will require additional effort until the election data are compared to the electoral cards, electoral register, and so on. Thus, the wasted time in recounting, and then to form the government would give Al-Maliki perhaps another half a year to rule Iraq!

Prime Minister Al-Maliki does not consider himself the prime minister of a caretaker government. He is administering a normal government, in fact more than normal, because due to the constitutional vacuum he has immense powers that he has never had during his rule in the past four years. The prime minister now governs the country without consulting the parliament, as the term of the Council of Representatives has lapsed; therefore, the prime minister can sign whatever he wants of decisions and contracts. Also the prime minister does not need the Presidency Council, because it is semi-honorary; he understands that the army is at his disposal as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces; and the relations with the United States – according to the security agreement – is under the authority of the prime minister’s office, and hence cannot be activated, even in case of internal dispute as is the case today, except at the wish of the prime minister. This means that practically he is the president, he is the prime minister, he is the parliament, he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and his is the controller of the relations with the United States. Thus it is in the interest of Al-Maliki and his government to prolong as much as possible the current situation, because it is a golden opportunity in which he has all the powers to spend, appoint, and change in any way he likes.

To what can this time-wasting game, which is comfortable for the government, lead? It certainly will lead to a state of restlessness and political chaos, because the competing sides will consider every passing day to be at their own expense.

What is the solution, particularly as the prime minister has not violated the Constitution, because the constitution has not imagined such a situation, and hence has not dealt with it? Is it possible to recall the old parliament for an extraordinary session to approve a formula for a solution, or to form an interim government? Is it possible for all the blocs that participated in the elections to sit down together and approve by a majority vote the way to get out of the crisis, namely either to ratify the results or to recount. The last solution remains, namely to continue the dispute among the blocs, and at the same time to appoint a caretaker with limited powers so that the prolonged process will not be in the interest of one side and at the expense of others.

The current recounting in Baghdad is a reward for the prime minister’s bloc, which is the only one whose demand has been agreed. What about the demands of the other blocs, which want recounting in other regions in which they think that they lost important votes? Why is the request of one side accepted, while the requests of others are rejected?

Because of these exhausting questions that sabotage the political process, it would have been better either to agree on recounting, or to accept the results, because they were approved by all the groups participating in monitoring the elections, including the international monitors, who said that they were acceptable.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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