Iraqi parliament to vote on speaker's resignation 

Iraqi parliament to vote on speaker's resignation 
Iraq's parliament is set to resume sessions today amid very tight security measures, and as the political stalemate continues. 
3 min read
28 September, 2022
Iraqi demonstrators gather in Tahrir Square in the centre of Iraq's capital Baghdad on 28 September 2022 ahead of a parliament session in the nearby high-security Green Zone across the Tigris river. {Getty}

The Iraqi parliament will reconvene for the first time in two months to vote on the resignation of the parliament speaker today afternoon, amid tight security measures and renewed demonstrations. 

Iraqi parliament Sunni speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi suspended the legislative sessions late in July after Shia Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers to raid the parliament to block his Shia rivals, the Iran-backed "Coordination Framework", to form a new government. 

Late on Tuesday, the Iraqi security forces sealed off the main bridges and roads leading to Baghdad's Green Zone, home to many state and foreign diplomatic institutions.

Locals in Baghdad early this week told The News Arab correspondent that the situation is expected to deteriorate by Saturday as there are calls for large demonstrations to commemorate the third anniversary of the 2019 October protests. Iraqi civilians also warned that Sadr's supporters in the meantime will hold demonstrations from the city's Nusur Square amid concerns that the demonstrations will descend into violence. 

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According to the parliament's agenda, today's session includes voting on the resignation letter of al-Halbousi and electing the first deputy speaker.

Before the parliament's session, loyalists of Sadr took the streets to pass into Baghdad's Green Zone, yet Iraqi security forces prevented them from going any further by erecting high new blast walls on all the main bridges and roads leading to the fortified area.

Halbousi, a former Sadr ally, on Monday, clarified that he does not want to "impose" himself by sticking to his post.

Addressing a panel at Rafidain Center for Dialogue in Baghdad, Halbousi also said that it is up to Iraqi MPs to decide on whether to trust him again, hinting that remaining in such a senior post needs "normal" conditions and cooperation by all the political parties.  

Halbousi's resignation came after his Taqqadum (Progressive) Party and his Sunni allies, the Coordination Framework, the two main Kurdish parties, and the Babylon parliamentary bloc- a pro-Iran Christian group- joined the newly formed Running the State Coalition.

The new alliance aims at electing a president for Iraq and forming an interim government with full powers for at least one year and a half, paving the way for fresh general elections following amending the country's election law.

Thus, many Iraqi political observers expect the resignation in fact may serve as a vote of confidence for him.

The Sovereignty Alliance, which represents the Sunnis at the Iraqi parliament, includes Taqqadum and Khamis al-Khanjar's Azm Alliance, in a statement on Tuesday said they are standing by Halbousi as parliament speaker.

It is unclear whether the other parliamentary blocs, especially pro-Iran Shias, would trust the speaker again.

Iraq's political crisis is now entering its 12th month after the country conducted early elections on 10 October 2021, in which Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won a majority with 73 seats. Sadr tried to form a 'national majority' government with several Sunni and Kurdish blocs, mobilising against pro-Iran Shia blocs organised under the Coordination Framework (CF).

Frustrated in his efforts to fulfil his promise to his supporters, however, Sadr ordered lawmakers from his bloc to resign, which all his MPs did on 12 June. The CF replaced Sadr's MPs with their own, becoming the biggest bloc in the Iraqi parliament. They vowed to form a consensus government that would include all the Sunni and Kurdish blocs.