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National Iraqi Alliance Calls for Reduction in Powers of Prime Minister | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – Friyad Rawanduzi of the Kurdistan Alliance revealed that President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani has asked the Kurdistan Alliance to authorize him to propose an initiative to the parties that are vying to form the new government of Iraq. Rawanduzi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the initiative was delivered to the head of the negotiating delegation of the Kurdistan Alliance, Deputy Prime Minister Rose Nouri Shawis, to present to the political blocs in Baghdad”.

Regarding the details of this proposal, Rawanduzi revealed that “The initiative includes the formation of a committee made up of the parliamentary bloc’s leaders to investigate mechanisms to form the [next] government and distribute sovereign [governmental] posts.”

Kurdistan Alliance MP Mahmoud Othman confirmed that Barzani introduced a new initiative to resolve the crisis surrounding the formation of the next government of Iraq by way or reducing the powers of the Prime Minister. In statements to the press, Othman said that “the focus should not just be on the issue of the prime minister; but on national consensus and clarifying the principles of partnership, the distribution of [governmental] posts, and reducing the powers of the prime minister until we can form a government capable of solving the country’s problems.”

For its part, the National Iraqi Alliance [NIA] that is led by Ammar al-Hakim prepared a paper specifying the prime minister’s powers. Mohamed al-Daraji, who is a leading figure in the Ahrar bloc that is part of the Sadrist movement, which itself is a member of the NIA, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that this paper “represents an internal system for the cabinet, with the cabinet operating by way of a board of directors…which has a head.” Al-Daraji said that the purpose of this is to “curb the dictatorship that took place in the past period” in reference to the outgoing government that is led by State of Law coalition candidate Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

As for the National Alliance [made up of al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition and al-Hakim’s NIA] and its search for a single prime ministerial candidate, al-Daraji stressed that “both coalitions are seeking to choose their prime ministerial candidate through the proposed mechanism; both sides agreed to begin with the mechanism of agreeing with one of the candidates [either State of Law coalition candidate al-Maliki, or NIA candidate and outgoing Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi].”

In the event of no agreement being reached, al-Daraji told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we would then look to loosening the voting mechanism.” This mechanism would see the candidate who obtains 65 percent of the National Alliance General Councils’ vote being named National Alliance candidate, although there is little chance of this happening. During the National Alliance meeting last Tuesday, the party agreed to choose a candidate in accordance with this mechanism, in addition to imposing a Sunday deadline on this issue.

Khalid al-Asadi of the State of Law coalition confirmed that the National Alliance imposing a deadline on the mechanism to choose its prime ministerial candidate should act as a stimulus to finally putting an end to the government formation crisis. As for the initiate put forward by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani, al-Asadi said that the State of Law coalition “supports any initiative on the condition that it does not contradict the constitution.”

Commenting on the difficulty the National Alliance is having in reaching an agreement on their prime ministerial candidate, the Iraqiya bloc’s Osama al-Nujaifi noted that “it is no secret that Iran is exerting pressure on the National Alliance, as it’s meetings to find a single candidate are taking place in Iran.” Al-Nujaifi stressed that the Iraqiya bloc would not ally with any government headed by al-Maliki, “although it is possible [for the Iraqiya bloc] to deal with any other figure, after agreeing power sharing with them, and confirming that the Iraqiya bloc has the right to form the next government.”

As for Barzani’s initiative, al-Nujaifi said: “I do not expect any progress in this direction, especially as we need to agree on the basics before going into details.” He added: “If the Kurds truly wish to solve the crisis, then they have to come to an agreement with the winning party (the Iraqiya Bloc) and the other small blocs in order to form a parliamentary majority; this is what would help in ending the crisis of government.”