Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi (L) speaks with Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki in this 2011 photo. The speaker says the PM will be summoned soon. AP photo
The speaker of Iraq’s Parliament reaffirmed yesterday that lawmakers are prepared to oust the nation’s prime minister if he refuses to share authority with his political opponents and break a deadlock that has all but paralyzed the government.
The threat by Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a leader in the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya political coalition, counters a claim last week by Iraq’s president that there is not enough support in Parliament to call a vote to push Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
from power. Last week, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said a preliminary count of lawmakers who want al-Maliki to step down fell four short of the 164 votes needed to force the issue. But al-Nujaifi denied that, saying that while a few lawmakers backed off, “the number is still enough.”
Speaking to reporters, al-Nujaifi said he personally believes al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, should step down from the job that he barely won after national elections in 2010 failed to produce a clear winner.
“This is a dangerous matter that if continued would lead to catastrophic consequences,” the Associated Press quoted al-Nujaifi as saying as Parliament prepared to return to work after a six-week recess.
He said al-Maliki would be summoned for questioning in front of Parliament within days. “And if there is a Parliament majority that is not convinced with the results of the questioning, then the non-confidence vote will take place,” al-Nujaifi said. He called the process “an attempt to put the country on the right track again.”
Responding, an al-Maliki spokesman said the prime minister planned to address Parliament soon but predicted he would not be forced to resign. The prime minister’s media adviser, Ali al-Moussawi, said al-Maliki will answer Parliament’s questions and respects his opponents’ rights to call for the no-confidence vote. “But we are confident that they will fail to secure the needed 164 votes,” al-Moussawi said yesterday.