Iraqi lawmakers vote to sack parliament speaker

Iraqi lawmakers vote to sack parliament speaker
Video: Parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi was removed by Iraqi lawmakers ahead of a vote on Haider al-Abadi's ministerial nominees for a new cabinet on Thursday.
3 min read
14 April, 2016
Iraqi lawmakers voted to remove the parliament speaker and his deputies amid a major row over the cabinet line-up that has caused chaos in the legislature, following postponements earlier this week.

The sacking of parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi, one of the country's main Sunni Arab politicians, may further delay efforts to select a new cabinet.

In response to the move, Juburi, issued a statement saying that the session, which he did not attend, was unconstitutional and that the required quorum of 165 was not reached.

The session held "in the absence of the presidency of parliament is unconstitutional and lacked the necessary quorum," the statement said.

But Niyazi Oghlu, the official responsible for taking a role call at parliament, put the number of lawmakers present at 173, while two other lawmakers also said more than 170 attended.

Thursday's session was set to see the current cabinet of party-affiliated ministers replaced by a technocratic government, despite significant resistance from powerful political parties who fear that the new appointments could weaken their political patronage networks, limiting their cash-flow and influence.

Abadi had presented his list of ministerial nominees but some of his initial nominations withdrew their names under pressure from political blocs as parties pushed for their own candidates.

The call for a new cabinet ministers followed widespread popular anger and street protests that condemned corruption many see endemic in the Iraqi government.

Cabinet ministers representing different political blocs are widely considered to be fermenting corrupt practices to favour their own political parties.

Protests outside the Green Zone, where many of the Iraqi government's main institutions are located, were called for by Shia cleric Muqatada al-Sadr demanding reform of the government.

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Tuesday's session saw Abadi presenting a new list to lawmakers but the voting was delayed as disagreements continued.

An emergency parliamentary session on Wednesday was halted after scuffles broke out between rivals in the house's hall as the voting on a new cabinet faced further delays.

But the session agreed "on the prime minister's attendance of the scheduled parliament session [on Thursday] to present final adjustments to the ministerial cabinet and put the candidates to vote," the parliament's speaker's office said.

However, some expect Thursday's session to be no different.

"There will be deliberate unrest in today's session to provoke others and cause chaos to prevent progress on the vote," an Iraqi lawmaker told The New Arab.

The chaotic scenes in Iraq's parliament reflect the country's political crisis as Iraqi forces are battling to recapture territories from Islamic State militants.

Iraq is also facing a financial crisis, which many blame on the corruption of Iraqi politicians.

Agencies contributed to this report.