What is happening in Iraq?
Protests grow without new parliament

  KirkukNow As parliament's tenure has expired, the Iraqi government cannot be monitored, while the country suffers from complications without any new legislation. The parliament's tenure, per the instructions of the constitution, ended in July 2018, while the new parliament's mandate is yet to begin due to the delay in approving election results. The manual recount process has further delayed the new parliament's work, as several political parties started calling the results as rigged. The former Law Committee member of Iraqi parliament, Zana Rostaiyi, said Iraq had lost a pillar of governance, noting the absence of parliament, as the constitution calls the country "a parliamentary republic".

A pillar of governance in Iraq has expired, as it does not monitor the Iraqi government anymore
Such absence leaves a negative impact, as lack of monitoring government's actions, and inability to issue new legislation, he remarked. However, the Iraqi government continues its mandate, without parliament's monitoring. Parliament also has the power to summon government officials in some instances, along with legislation and monitoring of the government. Rostaiyi called the situation "illegal and extraordinary", as not even amendments can be made. In the urgent case of the manual recount of the 12 May parliamentary votes, he asked, "who would amend the law if it was clear that there were fraud and rigging?" No power can perform such a task currently.
Kirkuk, July 2018, Ballot boxes with red ribbons are marked as nullified due to fraud.
Kirkuk, July 2018, Ballot boxes with red ribbons are marked as nullified due to fraud.
The manual recount process started after multiple parties claimed that the election results of 12 May 2018 were rigged, and protests began in some cities and towns. However, the process has not ended yet. After the judicial authority approves the results, the president of the country can summon new parliamentarians to start work in a matter of 15 days. A constitutional law expert Tariq Harib told KirkukNow, "With the end of the third tenure of parliament, the vacuum is not constitutional, but a legal one." Such a situation was expected, he said; thus the constitution has allowed the government to perform its duties without becoming interim. However, the constitution does not give any timeline concerning the duration of such a situation.
Iraq needs parliament more than any time in November, every year
Entangled with numerous crises, militant groups, corruption and protests, the Iraqi government continues to rule. The protests started in Basra, later reached the capital, where people protest against the shortage of basic services, including electricity, drinking water, low employment and confronting corruption in the public institutions. As they are on the highest alert condition, many confrontations have been reported between the security forces and the protesters, with an unidentified number of casualties.
Basra, 12 July 2018, the discontent protesters set tires ablaze in the city's gate. Photo: Reuters
Basra, 12 July 2018, the discontent protesters set tires ablaze in the city's gate. Photo: Reuters
Harib is concerned that the situation may prolong, as Iraq needs parliament to discuss the annual budget later this year, "Iraq needs parliament more than any time in November, every year to approve the annual budget." The alternative, Harib said, is that the constitution allocated 1/12 of the budget to be spent per month. The demands of the protesters could mostly be dealt with by financial means, but when the government decided to allocate a portion of their budget to the service projects, it did not extinguish the protests. Iraq is leading to an unidentified zone, the legal experts argue, as angry protests were welcomed with blocking internet connectivity and banning social media websites.
The vacuum is not constitutional, but a legal one
Two attempts to prevent such a situation failed, first when parliament tried to extend its tenure late in June 2018, and second when the religious clerics called for a swift formation of the government. The case of forming alliances to the formation of the government has seen no progress yet, as the judiciary has not approved the results yet. Harib said only when the confidence is withdrawn from the government by parliament, or the parliament is dissolved, the issue becomes constitutional, as of now, "the issue is merely legal".

  • FB
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YT