Prominent Shiite parties support dismissal of Iraqi Parliament speaker

Mohammed Al Halbousi was dismissed on Tuesday by Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court over forgery charges

Mohammed Al Halbousi has lost his job as speaker of the Iraqi Parliament. Reuters
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The largest Shiite parliamentary bloc in Iraq has backed a senior court ruling to dismiss the speaker Mohammed Al Halbousi.

Late on Wednesday, the Co-ordination Framework, an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias and parties, said it respects the Iraqi judiciary and “is committed to the decision of the Federal Court regarding the termination of Al Halbousi’s membership,” politician Mahmoud Al Rubaie said.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Federal Court dismissed Mr Al Halbousi, an influential young Sunni politician, over forgery charges. He has rejected the decision as "unconstitutional".

Mr Al Halbousi has been in a months-long legal battle with Sunni legislator Laith Al Dulaimi who accused him of forging his signature on a resignation letter.

The court has also removed Mr Al Dulaimi as an MP.

Mr Al Halbousi challenged his dismissal, saying it is not the Federal Court's jurisdiction to look into the validity of membership of parliament.

The court, he said, determines the constitutionality of laws and regulations, and settles disputes between federal government, regions and provinces, but parliamentary membership and termination are governed by specific constitutional articles, laws and procedures inside the parliament, which are beyond the Supreme Federal Court's jurisdiction.

"The court has no right to look into the legitimacy of the membership of the lawmaker," he said.

Mr Al Rubaie said the Co-ordination Framework “rejects any harm to the reputation, impartiality and objectivity of the Iraqi judiciary”.

Meanwhile, the major Sunni political parties were meeting to find a replacement for the speaker's role.

Two politicians who participated in the talks told The National that two more names have been added to the list of nominees.

They are Muthana Al Samaraie, leader of Azim Alliance and one of Mr Al Halbousi's rivals, and Khalid Al Obeidi from the same party.

Mr Al Obeidi served as defence minister in 2014 but was ousted over corruption accusations. No charges were ever brought against him in court and he strenuously denied the claims.

The other nominees are Ziyad Al Janabi and Haybat Al Halbousi, linked to Mr Al Halbousi’s Taqadum Party, and Salim Al Essawi, who is part of the Siyyada Party led by tycoon Khamis Al Khanjar.

More names could be added, they said on condition of anonymity as discussions were under way.

Shortly after the ruling, Taqadum said its ministers of planning, industry and culture would be resigning, as would MPs on parliamentary committees, in objection to Mr Al Halbousi's dismissal. The MPs will also sit out of parliamentary sessions and Taqadum will boycott political meetings with other parties, it said.

As of Thursday, however, no minister had submitted their resignation, said Husham Al Rikabi, adviser to the Prime Minister.

Updated: November 16, 2023, 10:47 AM