The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraq appears to have entered a late-Ramadan lull, but today the country’s supreme court at least had the whereabouts to make public the full details of its ruling that deprived former interior minister Jawad al-Bulani of his parliamentary seat.
The ruling itself is broadly as one could expect. The award earlier this year of a replacement seat to Bulani after Ali al-Sajri of the same Unity of Iraq coalition was promoted to minister of state and its confirmation by parliament in March clearly represented a violation of the law on replacement of deputies since a candidate from Baghdad thereby replaced a deputy from Salahaddin and upset the constitutionally mandated balance of deputies between the Iraqi governorates. It is the governorate argument that recurs in the ruling of the court, but it is interesting that the judges also at one point emphasised that Bulani in fact belonged to a different component (mukawwin) of the Unity of Iraq bloc (kutla) than Sajri (Bulani is from the Constitutional Party and Sajri from Tayyar al-Shaab), thereby raising a problem that could become of interest in future cases: Is it the electoral coalition or the individual list that should be used as point of departure for reckoning replacement entitlements? The replacement law from 2006 is ambiguous on this point.
What the ruling also makes clear is that the reason Bulani lost his seat was that politicians from Salahhadin actively filed appeals against the parliamentary decision to approve the replacement candidates in March. Presumably the reason why the court has not stripped two Shiite Islamist replacement deputies of their seats despite their cases being identical to Bulani’s is simply that no one from Bagdhad complained that Jawad al-Shuhayli, a Sadrist who ran in Dahuk, was given one of their seats and that Muhammad al-Hindawi, from Fadila in Karbala, was given another. Of course, Baghdad already has far more deputies than anyone else and its politics is less transparent, but the whole story inevitably smacks of a certain degree of backroom dealing inside the Shiite alliance.
Apparently, then, in this case the court has simply responded to those complaints that were filed and ignored the other cases. It will be interesting to see if new cases arise in the case of the ex-ministers that were given back their seats in parliament by the consultative assembly of the state. The details of that ruling, which is arguably far more controversial, have yet to be published so far.