Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Forming Iraq's new government...With voting or accordance?

The political dispute between the UIA and the rest of the political bodies is still up and growing with both parties stubborn and not showing signs compromising.

The UIA still insist that their decision to choose Jafari for PM must be respected while the Kurdish alliance, Accord Front and Iraqi list are still pushing towards changing Jafari with someone else from within the UIA (or to a lesser possibility from another bloc).

President Talabani wanted to bring the discussion to the halls of the parliament- a step I admired him for taking-but the UIA through the vice president AbdulMahdi halted Talabani's call by refusing to put his signature on it.
Legal experts and politicians have different opinions on whether the constitution has been breached or not by this delay in seating the parliament but the text is clear and frank; the parliament had to be called to convene two weeks ago thus the constitution is already breached even though politicians refuse to admit it and further delay can only be more illegitimate.

Let's take a look at the UIA's request submitted to Talabani to delay the first session of the parliament; they obviously need some time but what do they need this time for?
Do they need this time for themselves to reorganize their lines, convince Jafari to step down and present a new candidate for heading the cabinet?
Or they need it to try to convince the others to accept Jafari?
I personally find myself more inclined to believe the latter is the case…

The UIA are concerned about the unity of their bloc as they expressed more than once and that's what Ayatollah Sistani advised them to pay attention to when the leaders of the UIA met with him in Najaf recently and they realize that dumping Jafari at this point will most likely cause the bloc to split into two weaker halves. Not only that, replacing Jafari will mean they accept to submit to pressures from smaller blocs and that would be too bad for their pride, morale and reputation among their supporters.
And this is the same reason why they didn't want the parliament to convene at this point before an agreement is reached because they also do not want their candidate to be officially voted down by the rest of the parliament.

Right now, the only way Jafari can be appointed as PM is probably through making huge concessions to the Kurds and Sunni and secular blocs. In the Kurds' case, the UIA will probably promise them to put article 58 of the TAL concerning Kirkuk into action and to extend the jurisdictions of the president (Talabani). The Sunni Arabs will probably be promised to get one of the security-related cabinet posts in addition to agreeing to establish a "National Security Council" with equal representation for all the major blocs but of course all this depends on considering that the 4 blocs will have enough trust among them to buy promises.

As matter of fact, Azzaman has written about a similar deal this morning and their version includes giving Allawi the position of deputy prime minister with wide jurisdictions in the economy field in addition to the above points.

It seems to make sense that the UIA do not want to reach agreement with the others on the presidency and chairmanship of the parliament before they guarantee that their candidate is going to win the trust of a parliamentary majority because they fear the scenario of a 'coup' from the other blocs (with 145 seats) who can appoint a PM from outside the UIA because once the presidency council is elected it will take only 138 votes to approve a PM. As a matter of facts, there are rumors leaking from political salons about the Kurds discussing plans with the Sunni and secular blocs to make Allawi the new PM after voting down the candidate(s) of the UIA.

Speaking of Allawi, the man pointed out something quite interesting when he said in a televised interview last night that he's got members of the UIA on his side "though they wouldn't declare that in public".

I think the best way for the UIA out of this embarrassing situation is to convince Jafari to step down and then it would be viewed as a move from him as an individual, not from his bloc and therefore spare the UIA the waste of dignity and make Jafari look like someone who really cares for the progress of the political process and unity of Iraq.

Anyway, we'd better wait till Thursday night or better Friday before making more speculations as that's when leaders of the different blocs are scheduled to meet and decide a date for the parliament to convene.

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