Rivals of Iraqi PM unite again to block new term

Rivals of Iraqi PM unite again to block new term

BAGHDAD - Reuters
Rivals of Iraqi PM unite again to block new term

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki emerged unscathed from a failed attempt of a vote of no confidence arranged by his foes last April. EPA photo

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s rivals have started campaigning for term limits in an attempt to block the Shi’ite leader running for a third term in 2014, opening up a new battle in the country’s fragile cross-sectarian government.

Kurdish parties, the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc and even some rivals in al-Maliki’s own Shi’ite coalition failed earlier this year to trigger a vote of no confidence against a prime minister whom they accuse of consolidating power at their expense.

Those same factions have now handed a proposed law to parliament that would limit the mandate of prime minister to two terms, challenging a leader well-known for his skilful maneuvering through Iraq’s shifting alliances.

“A proposed law was presented to the parliament with the support of more than 130 lawmakers,” said Amir al-Kinani, a lawmaker with Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Sadrist bloc and a member of the legal committee.

Al-Maliki’s opponents would need a simple majority in the 325-seat Council of Representatives to pass the law. But in a country of often fickle political loyalties and divided parties securing that support faces huge challenges.

“We will challenge it from the beginning and even if it is passed we will appeal in Federal Court,” said Abbas al-Biyati, a lawmaker from al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition.

Since the last American troops left Iraq nearly a year ago, the country’s Shi’ite, Sunni Muslim and ethnic Kurdish parties have been caught up in a power-sharing stalemate that has left key oil and investment laws paralyzed in parliament.

 Maliki last April emerged unscathed from one of his toughest battles since his government was formed 23 months ago after his foes failed to muster the required ballots for a vote of no confidence to expel him from office.