Baghdad – Iraq’s Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari was voted out of office by the parliament on Wednesday in a secret vote of 158 to 77.
Zebari assumed office as minister of finance after spending 11 years as Iraq’s foreign minister.
A parliamentary inquiry investigated into charges of corruption and misuse of public funds. Zebari denied the allegations and suggested it was a political assassination attempt.
On August 28, the parliament voted on no-confidence after it was not convinced with Zebari’s responses to the inquiry. The minister filed a case against Speaker Salim al-Jabbouri for invalidity of the vote due to the circumstances of the session where altercations occurred between members of the parliament of both the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and State of Law Coalition.
Yet, Jabbouri announced at the session attended by 245 MPs, that there is no legal foundation for the signatures that were presented calling for a re-vote and thus called for voting out the minister.
The parliament refused a suggestion that the voting should be public by raise of hand.
MP of Badr Bloc Siham al-Moussawi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the secret vote led to the liberation of the wills of the blocs from its leadership, which could be considered a new era for the parliament.
She added that this is very important and delivers messages to both the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan region Masoud Barzani, who believed that no force could stop him in Baghdad, and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who called for postponing the vote.
The MP asked the government not to interfere in parliamentary matters.
Speaker Jabbouri revealed that the PM asked him to postpone the no-confidence vote. He issued a statement saying that he received a phone call from Abadi asking him to delay the vote because of the on-going negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Jabbouri said that it is a parliamentary matter to take such a decision.
The Reform Front, which includes MPs of all parliamentary blocs, said that it is important to overcome sectarianism.
MP Rihab Nehme al-Aboude told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the resignation was done after the MPs were convinced with the evidence presented against the minister. She added that Zebari wasn’t able to convincingly respond to the allegations.
She explained that the front previously succeeded in removing Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi from office.
The MP confirmed that the front will continue to fight corruption.
Head of the Parliamentary legal Committee Mohsen al-Saadoun told Asharq Al-Awsat that Speaker Jabbouri committed a series of legal violations. Of the violations, Saadoun mentioned Jabbouri’s insistence on a secret vote, while 102 MP wanted it to be public.
When asked whether Jabbouri has a personal issue with Zebari, Saadoun said that Jabbroui sacrificed Zebari for a personal position. He pointed out that the minister of defense filed a lawsuit against Jabbouri.
Saadoun explained that the issue was that the questions asked in Zebari’s inquiry were not enough for a no-confidence; especially that Jabbouri’s insistence to withdraw confidence after two days of the questioning is illegal as it should take a week.
“Unified for Reform” bloc, head by Osama al-Nujaifi considered the no-confidence motion an attempt to overthrow the government.
The coalition issued a statement saying that voting the minister of finance out of office after the minister of defense aims to overthrow the government. It added that these practices will hamper the war on terrorism.
The coalition believes that the interrogation of Zebari is political and not done through the proper channels, which is a violation of the bylaw of the parliament.
Unified for Reform announced its full and total support with the KDP.