Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Parliament Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki of carrying out a “coup against legitimacy,” following his calls for Iraqi parliamentarians to “disrupt” parliament and push through a controversial budget. Nujaifi also threatened to withdraw confidence from the Iraqi prime minister, saying: “Parliament has been the source of the Maliki government’s legitimacy . . . And it can also withdraw this legitimacy.”
Nujaifi, who heads the Sunni-backed Mutahidoun bloc, was responding to criticisms put forward by Maliki on Wednesday. During his weekly address, the Iraqi prime minister explicitly accused Iraq’s parliamentary speaker of “leading a conspiracy against the state.” Maliki accused Nujaifi of hampering the passage of Iraq’s 2014–2015 budget, which has become an increasingly contentious issue following disputes over the Kurdistan Regional Government’s allocation.
Speaking at a press conference at parliament headquarters on Thursday, Nujaifi said: “The accusations leveled by the prime minister towards parliament to the effect that he is incapable of passing laws expose his ignorance of the parliamentary rules of procedure . . . Despite the fact that he is approaching the end of his second term in office.”
“However, we agree with him that his government has failed, but completely disagree with his assessment of the cause for this, as this is the result of his own government’s policies,” he added.
Nujaifi also criticized Maliki’s call for MPs to disrupt parliament saying that “this sets a dangerous precedent that reveals the extent of his intervention in the work of this independent authority.” The parliamentary speaker added: “Maliki accused parliament of being behind the greatest conspiracy against the government in an attempt to cover up his government’s failures.”
Independent MP Izzat Shahbandar, a former member of Maliki’s own State of Law Coalition, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The way that the prime minister and parliamentary speaker are dealing with this issue will, necessarily, lead to the curtailment of the institutes . . . And the personalization of institutes.”
“Maliki blaming Nujaifi for the failure of the budget to get on the parliamentary agenda is not accurate because this is not Nujaifi’s decision alone but the decision of the parliament’s senior committee. Every member of this committee has the right to veto and it has been Second Deputy Speaker Aref Tayfur who has been rejecting this,” he added.
Citizen Coalition MP Abdul Hussein Abtan told Asharq Al-Awsat: “It is clear that we have reached a dead end and it is now no longer possible to talk about initiatives to bring different viewpoints together.”
He added: “We have reached the point of no return and it appears that there is a deliberate agenda being pursued before the elections to secure more gains. Therefore there will be no solution before April 30,” when Iraqi elections are scheduled to take place.