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Presidential election in Iraq: the cards reshuffled after the suspension of one of the two favorites | Iraq, a country to rebuild

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The parliamentary session, scheduled for Monday at noon, is likely to be adjourned for lack of quorum. With the announced boycotts, there could be in the hemicycle less than two-thirds of the 329 deputies required for the holding of the vote.

On Saturday, the first force in parliament, the current of the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, announced that its 73 deputies would not participate.

Sunday evening, the sovereignty coalition, ie 51 deputies led by the speaker of parliament Mohamed al-Halboussi, a Sadrist ally, also revealed its absence.

Later in the evening, the third pillar of this informal alliance, the influential Democratic Party of Kurdistan (PDK, 31 deputies), in turn announced its absence, with the aim of continuing consultations and dialogue between the political blocs.

It is moreover the PDK which saw its presidential candidate, the former head of Iraqi diplomacy Hoshyar Zebari, dismissed temporarily Sunday of the race by justice, after old charges of corruption which resurfaced.

A particularly polarized context

These twists illustrate the dissensions that once again weigh down the Iraqi political calendar, in a country accustomed to behind-the-scenes negotiations orchestrated by the major parties.

They intervene in a particularly polarized context, four months after the October legislative elections won by the Sadrist current. But after four months of negotiations, the political barons have still not succeeded in forming a majority parliamentary coalition capable of appointing a prime minister.

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Sunday, the suspension temporary of Mr. Zebari’s candidacy was decided to allow the Federal Supreme Court, the highest judicial body in the country, to rule on a complaint filed by deputies, according to the verdict handed down by the court and published by the agency of INA official press.

Plaintiffs say Mr Zebari does not meet constitutional requirements, citing in particular his 2016 dismissal by parliament when he was finance minister on charges related to financial and administrative corruption.

Several court cases

The complaint also mentions at least two other legal cases involving him, in particular when he was head of Iraqi diplomacy.

Mr. Zebari, several times minister in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein, between 2003 and 2016, would also be in the sights of justice for abuse of power in connection with large sums spent on a building that does not belong to the State.

Among the 25 or so candidates in the running, Mr. Zebari was one of the favorites in the presidential election until Sunday, as was Barham Saleh, the outgoing president, from the rival party of the Democratic Union of Kurdistan (UDK).

Since the first multi-party elections in 2005, it has been customary for the largely honorary post of President of the Republic to go to a Kurd.

Within 15 days of his election, the President of the Republic must appoint a Prime Minister, chosen by the largest coalition in parliament.

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Once appointed, the traditionally Shiite prime minister has one month to form a government.

But the rest of the process promises to be stormy.

Appeal to the Federal Supreme Court

Moqtada Sadr thus claimed to have enough seats in parliament to form a national majority governmenthoping to break with the tradition of consensus that allows all the major parties to share power.

But that’s not taking into account the Conquest Alliance, a political showcase for the former pro-Iran paramilitaries of Hachd al-Chaabi, and its Shiite allies in the Coordination Framework, which bring together also pro-Iranian parties.

Their deputies have appealed to the Federal Supreme Court to have their coalition recognized as the majority.

A request rejected by the highest constitutional body in Iraq, which assured that it could not decide at the present time, the parliamentary blocs being able to change.

Negotiations and violence

No one knows how to be in opposition, everyone knows how to share the cakeremarks to AFP the Iraqi political scientist Hamzeh Hadad, seeing a extended coalition.

The political negotiations around the post of prime minister have been accompanied by violence.

At the end of January, three rockets fell near the house of the speaker of parliament, Mohammed al-Halboussi. In November, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kazimi escaped an assassination attempt.

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