In a statement on his website, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki criticized opposition parties for refusing to negotiate with him to solve the current political crisis. He warned that the only resolution for this would be to dissolve parliament and call early elections.
Parliament quickly issued a statement asserting itself as the highest authority in the federal government and reminded Maliki the he was not elected to office by the people but selected by parliament. The request would have to be approved by President Jalal Talabani before parliament is dissolved, so it appears unlikely to happen without parliament’s approval.
By the end of the day, the prime minister was forced to clarify his comments and admitted that parliament is the highest authority. Still, the National Accord Movement used the moment to claim the comments demonstrate that Maliki is a tyrant. Other opposition groups met the threat with mixed feedback.
Maliki has previously said he would not seek a third term. However, as demands for his resignation were met with this threat of early elections, it seems his interest now is to try to strengthen his weak position with popular support.
The prime minister’s State of Law party did not win the most seats in 2010 elections — this despite considerable manipulation and the banning of hundreds of Sunni candidates. Instead, months of negotiations with lawmakers allowed him to remain prime minister.
His critics now accuse the premier of creating a new dictatorship and further marginalizing his political rivals, particularly the Sunnis. A recent attempt to withdraw confidence from Maliki failed when he managed to swing enough lawmakers to his side, but those efforts continue.
Furthermore, those controversial elections were held under the auspices of the Independent High Electoral Commission. Interestingly, current IHEC president Faraj al-Haidari was one of Maliki’s recent targets for marginalization. Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr suggested that Haidari was targeted in order to intimidate the independent commission ahead of 2014 elections. The IHEC’s mandate runs out next month with no replacements selected, suggesting that greater fraud could be in order.
Meanwhile, the surge in violence that many blame on the political tensions continues. At least 21 Iraqis were killed and 25 more were wounded:
Eight people were killed and 19 more were wounded in a double bombing near Madaen in Wahda. The first blast took place next to a garden at a Shi’ite politician’s home. It attracted first responders to a second bomb.
In Baghdad, a blast targeting a Sahwa member killed his wife and two children and wounded three others in Ghazaliya.
A bomb in Ramadi killed a physician and wounded his daughter.
A body was discovered in al-Rifai.
A sticky bomb wounded six people, three who were inside the car and three bystanders, in Tal Afar.
A kidnap victim was rescued in Qayara.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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