Parliament tensions hindering Iraq’s major reforms: Haider al-Abadi


Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ©

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called on lawmakers to exercise self-restraint amid political tensions at the parliament which have delayed a vote on his cabinet reshuffle. 
Abadi warned on Thursday that divisions in the parliament would hinder his efforts to implement reform plans.
The Iraqi parliament has witnessed a tumultuous week amid a political rift which has thrice prevented a vote on the list of new ministers.
On Thursday, the parliament cancelled a vote on the cabinet overhaul and voted to unseat speaker Salim al-Jabouri and his deputies. Lawmakers also appointed Adnan al-Janabi, a senior tribal leader, as the acting head of the parliament.

Adnan al-Janabi (L), who led a parliament session after lawmakers voted to remove the parliament speaker, talks to an MP at the parliament in Baghdad on April 14, 2016. ©AFP

Jabouri dismissed the session as unconstitutional because he and the premier were not present and the vote had failed to reach the required quorum.
Prime Minister Abadi said the row at the parliament is against the spirit of reforms, which undermines ’s unity in the face of its security challenges.
He warned that a political crisis engulfing the country could hamper the war against Daesh militants.
“The conflict has crippled parliament … and could obstruct the work of the government, impacting the heroic operations to free our cities and villages (from Daesh),” Abadi said in a statement issued late on Thursday.
He called on all political parties to remain calm and pave the way for dialog to help the government move forward with the planned reforms.
The reforms, he said, are only part of a wider reform plan aimed eliminating corruption at state institutions and addressing the country’s economic woes.

Members of parliament who held a sit-in, stand during a conference at the parliament building in Baghdad on April 14, 2016. ©Reuters

The parliament voted on March 28 to give Abadi a three-day deadline to present his new government or face a vote of no-confidence.
The premier met the deadline and presented a list of nominees. But he has faced stiff resistance from some parties seeking to maintain their influence in the administration. 
Most of those on Abadi’s list were later substituted with new names on a second list distributed among lawmakers on Tuesday, triggering a storm and prompting some MPs to launch at a sit-in at the floor.
On Wednesday, a fistfight erupted in the parliament hall, forcing the prime minister to say he would make changes to the disputed names on the new list.

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