Iraqi court dismisses request to dissolve parliament amid failure to form new government

Nearly 11 months after Iraq held national elections, the country is still in deadlock

Judge Jassim Mohammed Aboud, head of the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court.  EPA
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Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court has dismissed on Wednesday a lawsuit to dissolve Parliament after political parties failed to form a new government, nearly 11 months since national elections.

The case has been filed separately by the Sadrist movement, a major Shiite political group endorsed by influential cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, and the independent Waie Movement.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the country's top court said it has no authority to dissolve the Parliament and that lawmakers have to consider the mechanism mentioned in the constitution.

According to the Iraqi constitution, a vote passed by an absolute majority is required to dissolve Parliament, and that vote can be requested only by a third of MPs or by the prime minister, with the president's approval.

Iraq is going through its longest political stalemate since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, causing widespread tension in the country.

Early elections in October last year came in response to one of the core demands of a nationwide, pro-reform protest movement that began in 2019 in central and southern parts of the country.

The elections were the fifth parliamentary vote for a full-term government since the 2003 invasion.

Since then, bitter rivalry among political elites, mainly among the country’s majority Shiites, has delayed the process of forming a government.

The Sadrists won the most seats of any single party – 73 seats in the 329-seat Parliament – but was unable to find enough support from other parties to form a coalition government. Mr Al Sadr also faced opposition from his Shiite rivals, the Tehran-allied Co-ordination Framework.

In June, he ordered his MPs to resign and a few weeks later his supporters staged protests outside the parliament building to hinder efforts by his rivals to form the government.

He demanded the dissolution of the legislative body and the holding of snap elections. But that request was rejected by the Supreme Judicial Council, saying it has no power to dissolve Parliament.

Mr Al Sadr said that his request was based on the constitutional deadlines for appointing a new president and prime minister being missed.

The escalation hit new levels last week when hundreds of Mr Al Sadr’s supporters stormed the streets of the fortified Green Zone, taking over the republican palace shortly after he announced his "definitive retirement" from politics and the closure of all Sadrist institutions.

The angry mob faced live ammunition from Iran-backed Shiite militias, prompting clashes between two sides for nearly 24 hours inside the zone, which is home to key government offices, foreign embassies and residences of senior politicians.

At least 30 people were killed, mostly supporters of Mr Al Sadr, and dozens of others were wounded.

Updated: September 08, 2022, 5:55 AM
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