London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Iraqiya bloc spokesperson Maysoon al-Damluji informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the countdown has begun to withdraw confidence from the premiership of Nuri al-Maliki, head of the State of Law coalition, after we have collected the signatures of more than half the Iraqi Council of Representatives, who support this request.” She added that “the political blocs expect al-Maliki to resign before the beginning of the process to withdraw confidence from him in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, which is set to begin in the next few days.”
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Erbil, al-Damluji stressed that “the meeting of the political blocs that are calling for the withdrawal of confidence from al-Maliki – and they are the Kurdistan Alliance and the Ahrar parliamentary bloc of the Sadrist trend – which took place in Erbil last Monday, headed by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani…expressed the determination of both groups to withdrew confidence from al-Maliki in his capacity as prime minister.”
She added “the meeting that took place in the city of Sulaymaniyah the day before yesterday, which was attended by Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP] leader Barham Salih…was devoted to the same issue, namely the withdrawal of confidence from al-Maliki.”
The Iraqiya bloc spokesperson also indicated that “Iraqi President Talabani informed the political parties that are calling for the withdrawal of confidence from al-Maliki to follow the constitutional procedures for this, which requires the collection of more than half the signatures of the Council of Representatives.” She added “the president informed us that if we obtained these signatures, he will apply to parliament for the withdrawal of confidence from the prime minister, as required by the Iraqi constitution.”
Al-Damluji also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “until now, we have collected more than 200 signatures from members of the Council of Representatives who support the withdrawal of confidence from the premiership of al-Maliki, which is more than the constitutional requirement, which necessitates the collection of just 164 signatures only” adding “this number is on the rise, and we expect more MPs to sign this request.”
She also revealed that Iraqi MPs from various different political trends had signed the request to withdraw confidence from al-Maliki, including members of the Iraqiya bloc, Kurdistan Alliance, the Ahrar bloc of the Sadrist trend, and even members of al-Maliki’s own State of Law coalition.
As for the forthcoming steps that must be taking to withdraw confidence from al-Maliki, Iraqiya bloc spokesperson Maysoon al-Damluji informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “according to the Iraqi constitution, his Excellency the president – in his position as the sponsor of the constitution – will send a request to the presidency of the Council of Representatives, calling on him to withdraw confidence from al-Maliki, and we expect parliament to call for an emergency session to vote on the withdrawal of confidence from al-Maliki.” She added that “it is expected that al-Maliki will present his resignation before we reach this stage of withdrawing confidence from him, otherwise, the procedures will move according to the constitutional mechanism.”
As for alternative candidates for the post of Iraqi prime minister, al-Damluji said “one week ago we called on the National Alliance to nominate an alternative [to al-Maliki], and if an alternative is not put forward, then the political blocs will come to an agreement regarding a nominee for the position of prime minister.”
For his part, Sadrist trend leader Moqtada al-Sadr denied reports that the Sadrist trend intended to put forward one of its own members as an alternative to al-Maliki.
The State of Law coalition issued a statement claiming that the recent meetings in Erbil and Najaf had failed to withdraw confidence from the Nouri al-Maliki government, whilst renewing calls for the formation of a majority government to resolve the ongoing political crisis in Iraq.
The countdown to the withdrawal of confidence from al-Maliki began following the meeting in Erbil, which was attended by senior Iraqi political figures including Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, Iraqiya bloc leader Iyad Allawi, Iraqi parliamentary speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, Sadrist trend leader Moqtada al-Sadr, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and others. The meeting granted al-Maliki a 15-day deadline to begin to implement the decisions of the meeting, including focusing on national consensus, committing to the constitution, and putting forward candidates for the security ministries. However this deadline ended on 17 May without any tangible results.