Iraqi parliament adopts law to block Malikis third term

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The Iraqi parliament voted on Saturday to pass a law that seeks to prevent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki from seeking a third term in office, a move dubbed by the prime minister’s State of Law Coalition as “unconstitutional.”

“Why wasn’t there a proposed law to fix the prime minister’s terms during the heightened Iraqiya List and Maliki’s bloc political schism,” Abu-Dhabi based analyst, Amir al-Tamimi, told Al Arabiya in reference to the secular yet Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc boycotting the parliament late 2011.

Previous campaigns to curb some of Maliki’s increasing powers included a futile attempt to unseat him on November 2012. Kurdish parties, Iraqiya bloc and even some rivals in Maliki’s own Shiite coalition failed to pass a vote of no-confidence.

The divisions in Maliki’s wider State of Law Coalition are because some members rejected the prime minister be given a third term, sharing similar sentiment to their Sunni and Kurdish counterparts.

“[Divisions inside Maliki’s bloc] is an indication of declining power of Maliki,” Tamimi confirmed.

The draft law shows the leader is losing his grip especially after deadly protests against his administration rocked the mainly Sunni province of Anbar.

Demonstrations in Anbar left five anti-Maliki protestors killed on Friday.

“Some people in the political circles have seized the opportunity of protests happening in Anbar,” Tamimi said.

Early in January, reports emerged that Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani turned Maliki and his envoys away from the holy city of Najaf, citing the cleric’s disappointment over Maliki’s administration’s performance.

Meanwhile, to make the draft law binding, the president and the federal court – both Maliki’s allies –have to approve it. President Jalal Talabani had foiled the attempt to unseat Maliki when he stated late 2012 that he will not submit a request to the Iraqi parliament to withdraw confidence from Maliki.

The federal court has nearly always stood by Maliki’s administration on paper, Baghdad-based political analyst Adnan Hussein said.

“This is an important step as it will formulate Iraq’s future,” Hussein told Al Arabiya. “But technically they cannot,” citing the judiciary’s lack of independence.

The State of Law coalition said that they will appeal before the court.

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