Iraq’s parliament ended its session Wednesday July 30 without resolving the disputes over the provincial election law. Lawmakers are suppose to be on summer break, but the Speaker of Parliament Mahmoud Mashhadani said there will be a special session Sunday August 3 to try to get the bill passed, but signs are not good for a compromise.
The major impediment is the immediate future of Kirkuk. The law that was passed earlier, and then vetoed by the President Council said that elections in Kirkuk’s Tamim province should be delayed six months. In the meantime, the provincial council would be equally divided between Kurds, Arabs, and Turkoman, with the Christians receiving one seat. The Kurds support the election delay, but object to the council provision because they currently control it, and are probably a majority in the province as well. Ultimately, the Kurds hope to annex Kirkuk to Kurdistan, but that process has been put on hold as well because of the same divisions that are delaying passage of the election law.
Iraqi politicians and the public remain deeply divided over the issue. Thousands of Kurds have been protesting in Kirkuk and Kurdistan against the law. Before parliament adjourned, Turkman politicians walked out of the election committee. Al Hayat newspaper also reported that the Shiite Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) had split with its militia, the Badr Brigade, when the law first came up. The SIIC voted against the law, while Badr was angered when the Kurds walked out, and voted for it as a protest. The Kurds, the SIIC, and the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front would also benefit from the bill not passing on Sunday, and the provincial balloting being delayed because they will be challenged in the elections and would like more time to consolidate their power. The United Nations is also trying to mediate the crisis. It will be interesting to see whether the dominant coalition of the Kurds and the SIIC, will be able to keep their hold over parliament and either pass a law they agree with or block one that they don’t. It was said that the original law getting through was the first time the Kurds had been defeated in the legislature.
Alsumaria, “Kirkuk security escalation has repercussions on Parliament’s session,” 7/29/08
Missings Links Blog, “A reported split within Hakim’s Supreme Council bloc,” 7/28/08b
Parker, Ned, “Iraq parliament plans emergency session on local elections,” Los Angeles Times, 7/31/08
Raghavan, Sudarsan, “Dozens Kill in Iraq Suicide Bombings,” Washington Post, 7/28/08
Voices of Iraq, “Protestors in Sulaimaniya present warrant of protest against elections law,” 7/31/08