London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Adel Abdel Mahdi, who is the Vice President of Iraq, and the prime ministerial candidate for the Iraqi National Alliance [INA] that is led by Ammar al-Hakim informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “minus one [member]” his candidacy to head the next government of Iraq had been unanimously approved by the INA.
In an interview conducted by e-mail with Adel Abdel Mahdi, Asharq Al-Awsat asked the INA prime ministerial candidate about figures within the INA and the State of Law coalition [SLC] describing his candidacy as not representing the entire INA. Abdel Mahdi responded by informing Asharq Al-Awsat that “the INA unanimously – minus one member – stood in front of television screens to officially announce my candidacy, therefore this is nothing but interference.” Abdel Mahdi added that “in all [electoral] blocs there are some objections [to a candidate] that are made publicly or whispered. In the majority of these blocs, it is not just one vote but many that oppose the bloc’s candidate, and this does not detract from the legitimacy or formality of the bloc’s decision.” He went on to say that if bloc’s were only able of voting in candidates unanimously “then nobody would reach an agreement because unanimity is the exception, whereas [obtaining] a vast majority is the norm. The INA candidacy process is the strongest and clearest of [other] candidacies.”
As for former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s objection to his candidacy, Abdel Mahdi referred Asharq Al-Awsat to “ask Dr. al-Jaafari” for the reasons behind this, adding that “I have great respect for him.” He added that “the last position that I heard from representatives of Dr. Jaafari differs from what I heard from him or others over the past two years.” Abdel Mahdi also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “this is politics…and it is not a sin for one to take a position that he believes to be correct. Personally, I have learned to respect and appreciate those who object against or oppose me as much as I respect those who support and work with me.”
Asharq Al-Awsat also asked the INA prime ministerial candidate whether he intends on working towards allying with other electoral blocs such as the Iraqiya bloc, the SLC, or the Kurdish Alliance, in order to form a government, or whether he intends to open dialogue with SLC leader Nuri al-Maliki in order to come to an agreement on who will be the National Alliance [alliance of the INA and SLC] prime ministerial candidate. Abdel Mahdi responded by saying that “national partnership is essential….for in the end the [prime ministerial] candidate will be voted for by the Council of Representatives…and must obtain at least 163 votes” He added that this means that he must move forward “in order to obtain the largest support from my supporters in the National Alliance, by which I mean the INA and the SLC…as well as the Iraqiya bloc, the Kurdistan Alliance, the Iraqi Accord Front, the Unity Alliance of Iraq bloc, and other blocs and powers.”
Asharq Al-Awsat also raised the question of the Iraqiya bloc’s electoral and constitutional right to form a new government as the bloc that won the most number of seats at the March elections to the INA prime ministerial candidate. Abdel Mahdi answered, saying “I have repeatedly stated that if the National Alliance is able to put forward a single [prime ministerial] candidate then the formation of the next government should be entrusted to it, if we take into account the criteria of seats, without taking into account the criteria of [national] participation and the importance of this in guaranteeing the success of the next government.” However Abdel Mahdi went on to say that “if it [the National Alliance] is unable to do this [put forward a single candidate], then the largest bloc will be the Iraqiya bloc that for its part should take the criteria of national partnership into account, not just who won the most seats at the elections.”
Adel Abdel Mahdi also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “with all due respect to the effort exerted by everybody on this issue, I believe that this is a [constitutional] procedure [towards forming a new government] rather than the reality, for when the constitution talks about the largest bloc this is in order to discover who had the easiest path to obtaining a parliamentary majority, and this is [the bloc] that enjoys the most confidence, not necessarily who won the most seats at the elections.
He added that “all eyes should focus on the bloc that is capable of putting forward such a candidate, not on the [constitutional] procedures. We must accept any candidate that we are confident can obtain a [parliamentary] majority and impose the [national] partnership needed to ensure the government’s success, whether this candidate is from the Iraqiya bloc, the SLC, the INA, or another bloc. The purpose of the [constitutional] procedure is to facilitate the task [of forming a government], not complicate the issue or stand in the way of effective solutions”