Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Contradictions of Maliki's Politics

By: Ali Rawaf

Over the past three months, Maliki has proved that rules, norms, laws, and the constitution can be boldly violated without any regards to the public sentiments. It also proved the immaturity of Iraq's democracy and the politicians who are still new to the democratic game.

First, Maliki openly supported the rise of the De-baathification committee in the Parliament, a toll that was used to "legally" disqulaify candidates before the elections and after the results came out. The commission, under its new name, Commission for Justice and Accountability, made decisions to disqualify, sue, and publicly question the integrity of candidates, even though its Parliament was not in session. Recently, the commission said it would stop disqualifying newly-elected Parliamentarians, as if they have done us a favor.

Then, Maliki ran on a secular campaign, promising Iraqis that the past of ethnic tensions was to be left behind. He also promised that the politics of confessionalism in Iraq is now an old practice. Once he found out that the results weren't in his favor, he sought Iraqnian support and quickly tried to make a coalition with the radical Shiite bloc, which came third in the elections after Maliki's 89 nine seats and Allawi's 91 seats. The Shiite "coalition" hasn't agreed on a leader of the coalition neither have they settled on a candidate for the prime minister's post, the two important features of a political coalition seem missing. But parties left and right don't like any of the other blocs' candidates(Top vote-getters) for the Prime Minister post, which is not respecting the new election law that calls for and "Open List," a term that refers to placing each candidate's name on the ballot so the voter will choose directly on who wants for the PM post.

Malki also criticized Allawi's visits to regional countries, claiming that the visits represent an invitation to those countries to interfere in Iraqi politics. In the past couple of days, Maliki sent delegations to Arab countries to garner their support for his second term, openly.

The State of Law, Nouri al-Malki's bloc rhetorically attacked Allawi when he said that a non-inclusive government will drag Iraq back into sectarian tensions and violence. Maliki, when he felt that the PM post was slipping from his hand, he claimed that Iraq will once again go back to sectarian violence if he is not to get a second term.

The State of Law's coalition with the radical Iraqi National Alliance, named "National AlLiance," declared the alliance within 48 hours of the date Parliament was set to convene and after Ammar al_Hakim, the leader of the Iraqi National Alliance met with Sistani, the Shiite Grand Ayatolla. This shows that religious authority can override the democratic process and norms and can still manipulate politics or influence it one way or another.

Maliki's government also is acting as it is the official government, not an interim one. The PM is writing laws, signing deals and contracts, and hiring ambassadors, all of which are non-constitutional.

In short, Iraq's democracy s fragile and its rules can still be bent by politicians. Once our politicians leave behind the past and the spirit of revenge and politics of confessionalism, elements of liberal democracy might be more tangible but if we keep the gridlock and bold violation of electoral rules, laws,the constitution, and proportionally distribute government positions, we will stay unconsolidated democracy, a picture that much looks like Lebanon, if not worse.

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