Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi is facing calls to sever his links to the Islamic Da’wa Party. Several Iraqi lawmakers have also called on Abadi to declare a state of emergency in the country and freeze its current constitution.
The calls come amid mounting public anger and widespread, weeks-long protests over corruption, sectarianism, and the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in the country.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, former MP Kazim Al-Shamri said Abadi faced “pressure from the Iraqi street, which could transform into actual demands from protesters” that he leave his party.
He said Abadi’s ties to the Da’wa party were “obstructing” recent reforms the prime minister was attempting to enact in order to curb corruption and end quotas for official posts that are based on sectarian affiliation. As part of the measures, Abadi has canceled Iraq’s three vice president positions, which are shared between a Sunni, Shi’ite, and Kurdish incumbent.
The Da’wa party is headed by Abadi’s controversial predecessor and former vice president Nuri Al-Maliki, who lost the latter post as part of the reforms.
Abadi’s membership of the party no longer “harmonized” with his post as prime minister, since the premier “must represent all Iraqis,” Shamri said.
“The prime minister must be patriotic not partisan, regional, or sectarian, because party or sectarian affiliations will constrict him and prevent him from carrying out the role he must play during this very difficult time in Iraqi history,” he added.
Iraq’s former planning minister Mahdi Al-Hafiz echoed calls from others in Iraq for Abadi to declare a state of emergency, freeze the country’s constitution, and form a new, interim government.
“The best solution to the current crisis the country is going through is to declare a state of emergency and form an emergency cabinet composed of technocrats based on loyalty to the country,” he said in a statement.
He also called for “freezing the country’s constitution and preparing a new constitution within one year” with the help of legal and constitutional experts.
However, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Iraqi legal expert Ahmed Al-Abadi said Prime Minister Abadi would not be able to declare a state of emergency nor freeze the current constitution without the approval of Iraq’s president and at least two-thirds of the country’s parliament.
The state of emergency could only be declared if the country was at war and would last 30 days, subject to renewal each time also via a two-third majority vote in parliament and the president’s approval, he said.