Head of Catholic Church in Iraq calls for new political system

Cardinal Louis Sako's remarks come ahead of the 21st anniversary of the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime

Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako addresses the faithful during the Palm Sunday service at Mar Youssif Church in Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, April 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
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The leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq, Louis Sako, called for a complete overhaul of the country’s political process, which has been in place since the 2003 US-led invasion.

Cardinal Sako’s remarks coincide with the country's upcoming commemoration of the 21st anniversary of the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime and the introduction of an ethno-sectarian quota system.

“There must be a reconsideration of the entire political process,” Cardinal Sako said, while extending his congratulations to Muslims on the start of Ramadan.

“A new nonsectarian agreement needs to be reached based on full citizenship, ensuring a better future for Iraqis and preserving the [society's] components and their rights."

In 2003, the US led an international coalition that invaded Iraq to remove Saddam’s regime. The effects of the invasion have been felt in Iraq ever since.

Parliamentary elections were introduced to take place every four years, but the results are not taken into consideration in the government formation process.

Instead, the process is based on an informal power-sharing arrangement known as muhasasa in Arabic, a system widely described as one in which power is apportioned based on sect.

Under an unofficial agreement, Iraq’s presidency, which is primarily ceremonial, is held by a Kurd, while the prime minister's post is reserved for a Shiite and the role of parliament speaker is reserved for a Sunni.

Other government posts are divided among the country’s political parties based on their religious and ethnic background.

Cardinal Sako said he hopes the continuing war in Gaza stops during the holy month.

“It is unfortunate that this blessed month coincides with the ongoing devastating war in the holy lands as well as conflicts here and there and violations of human rights, freedom and dignity,” he said.

The war on the enclave, in its fifth month now, has killed more than 31,000 Palestinians, including about 12,000 children.

“I hope that in this holy month, all those with good intentions worldwide come together to put an end to all forms of conflicts and wars, reduce injustice and pain,” he added.

Mediators from the US, Egypt and Qatar tried to secure a ceasefire in Gaza before Ramadan, which began on Monday, after failing to find agreements on key sticking points, including the details of a swap of hostages detainees, Hamas's demand for Israel to withdraw from Gaza, and conflicting plans for the postwar administration of the enclave.

Updated: March 12, 2024, 10:23 AM