PM al-Maliki signals snap Iraq elections

PM al-Maliki signals snap Iraq elections

PM al-Maliki signals snap Iraq elections

Iraqi PM says opposition’s stance has forced him to call for early elections. REUTERS photo

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called for early national elections, after a series of political crises escalated into calls for his removal.

“When the other side refuses to sit at the table of dialogue and insists on the policy of provoking successive crises in a way that causes serious damage to the supreme interests of Iraqi people, the prime minister found himself forced to call for early elections,” said a statement on al-Maliki’s website. The next parliamentary polls were previously set to be held in 2014.

According to Article 64 of the Iraqi constitution, Parliament may be dissolved by an absolute majority vote. The process can be initiated in two ways: a request from either one-third of MPs or from the prime minister, whose request first has to be approved by the president.

After the last parliamentary polls in March 2010, a government could not formed until December that year, and some key Cabinet posts - including the defense and interior ministers - remain vacant to this day. Iraq has been hit by a series of intertwined political crises that began in mid-December with accusations by the secular, Sunni-backed al-Iraqiya bloc that al-Maliki was concentrating power in his hands. The crises have since escalated into calls to unseat him.

An effort to persuade Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to call a no-confidence vote stalled earlier this month, when he said that al-Maliki’s opponents lacked the votes to oust him. That decision meant that the only way al-Maliki’s opponents could press their drive for a no-confidence motion was by requesting that he appear in front of Parliament before holding the vote.

Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi said on June 21 that al-Maliki’s opponents were preparing to ask in the coming days for al-Maliki to appear before the house, in a renewed bid to oust him. The crises have paralyzed government, especially Parliament, which has passed no significant legislation except for the budget, while other important measures such as a hydrocarbons law regulating Iraq’s oil sector have been delayed.

The latest political development comes on a day when three roadside bombs killed 11 people in Iraq, security and medical officials said.