Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi parliamentarians said Friday that the government is seeking to send a draft law to parliament that would allow the announcement of a state of emergency ahead of elections scheduled for April 30.
Iraqi parliamentary rapporteur Mohamed Al-Khalidi told Asharq Al-Awsat that parliament had received the draft National Safety Law on Friday, but warned that it would not be able to ratify the bill due to how late it was submitted.
“This bill arrived at a time when parliament is preparing to end its current session, so there is no time to approve this bill. This is something that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who submitted this draft law on behalf of the government, is well aware of,” he said.
Khalidi, who is also a member of the Sunni-majority Mutahidoun Coalition that has been very critical of the Baghdad government in the run-up to the elections, said the submission of this bill at this time and in this manner, “represents definitive proof of the government’s security failures and its inability to deal with the security file in the correct manner.”
Also on Friday, Iraqi Shi’ite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr renewed warnings about the return of “dictatorship” in Iraq following the exclusion of a number of MPs from the elections race, in addition to the controversial draft bill.
Sadr expressed hopes for the success of his parliamentary bloc, Al-Ahrar, in the elections, but reiterated that he personally has withdrawn from politics.
“The decision to exclude candidates from the elections . . . seeks to silence the right opposition voices and the voices that expose corruption,” he said.
Sadr also called on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki not to run for a third term in office, accusing him of targeting Sunnis.
“Brother Maliki thinks he served Iraq. Let him rest for four years, and see if whoever comes next would serve better . . . If not, let him come back four years after that—it would not be a problem.”
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, current Iraqi MP Sabah Al-Saidi, who was excluded from running in these elections by Iraq’s election commission, thanked Sadr for “rejecting the process of political eradication,” which he said “clearly confirms that there is an approach to restore dictatorship to the country again.”
Saidi said he and other excluded candidates will continue their efforts to return to the parliamentary race in a bid to confront “the corrupt” who are trying to “exclude all honest opposition voices.”
Another Iraqi MP for the Al-Ahrar Bloc, Hakim Al-Zamili, told Asharq Al-Awsat that some parties “have mistakenly gambled on Sadr’s disappearance or withdrawal paving the way for them to reinstate dictatorship.”
In his annual speech earlier this week, an embattled Maliki sought to frame the National Safety Law as a key means to bolster security during the election phase.
“The terrorists have failed and will be met with long lines of voters at the elections. We are in need of these votes, and change, and the election of a government that will continue the rebuilding process and secure services and stability for the Iraqi people,” he said. “This will only happen if the citizens choose well.”
Maliki called for the election of what he termed a “majority political government,” denying this would mean marginalizing opposition parties.
Following the speech on Wednesday, the Shi’ite Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) announced their support for a “political majority government.”
ISCI Mawatan parliamentary bloc leader Abdul Hassan Abtan told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “ISCI supports a political majority government, but on the basis of programs, not portfolios.”
“The most important thing for us is how we secure services for citizens at all levels, and improve different areas of the economy, particularly reconstruction, industry, oil and agriculture,” he said.