By: Ali Rawaf
Today, Nuri Al-Maliki is seen more of an authoritarian ruler than a prime minister in a newly formed democracy. He fires opponents, ignores political promises and agreements, and defies the legislative and the legal system of the country. And Parliament doesn’t exercise its power to check on the Prime Minister.
In recent move that further demonized the second term PM, Maliki pressured the Chairman of Iraq’s Integrity Commission*, Judge Raheem Al-Ugaili to resign**. The PM’s party says the Chairman wasn’t qualified for the position anyways because he was a former Baathist and therefore shouldn’t hold such an important position. Maliki asked the Chairman to investigate two corruption cases in which two of Maliki’s opponents are involved. When, the Chairman refused to do so for lack of evidence, Maliki pressured him to resign.
In Maliki’s first term, Parliament would have overlooked the resignation of the Chairman and wouldn’t have sought for ways to check the power of the PM, who obviously has overstepped his boundaries. But not this time. A day late, a member of the Parliament’s Integrity Committee(Different from the Integrity Commission), Sabbah Al-Saedi issued a press release in which characterized the move as reminiscent of Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian regime and cautioned his fellow members that if this move goes unopposed, they are letting a new Saddam Hussein flourish in the country’s new democracy.
Maliki sought an arrest warrant against Al-Saedi, in which he claimed that his comments threaten the countries security. The warrant was issues, based on a law from the Saddam Hussein era under which opponents were criminalized.
In order for the arrest to go through, Parliament has to withdraw immunity from the member. A majority of the parliament stood by the member and didn’t withdraw his immunity. Further, Parliament voted for a new law for the Integrity Commission, where the Chairman is appointed and is fired by Parliament and not the PM. However, a day before the law was passed, Maliki used a law from the Coalition Administration under Paul Bremer to appoint a temporary Chairman for the Integrity Commission.
The Iraqi parliament got its act together to vote for the law. Now, will they get their act together to appoint a new Chairman for the Integrity Commission?
*Under the Iraqi Constitution, The Integrity Commission is one of the principal independent oversight bodies like the Electoral Commission and the Central bank. The Commission investigates corruption cases in government institutions. According to the Commission's website, it had succeeded in indicting more than 2000 government employees on the basis of fraud (Bribery) and/or providing false college degrees in their job applications.
**Judge Rahem Al-Ugaili was born in 1966, bachelor degree in Law from university of Baghdad in 1991. After his graduation at the Judicial Institution, he was appointed as a judge in 1997. Judge Izzat Twafiq is the fourth personality to hold the presidency of Commission of Integrity which was established by CPA where Mr. Rady Al-Rady was the first commissioner.
Website of the Integrity Commission: http://www.nazaha.iq/en_default.asp