Iraq Business Report

Last updated at 21/01/2018

Iraq's supreme court rules against election delay

Iraq's Supreme Federal Court Sunday ruled against calls by Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers to delay a parliamentary election, expected to be called for May, to allow hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war to return home.

Shiite politicians, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, argued delaying the election would be unconstitutional.

The election must be held "within the timeframe provided by the constitution," the court said in a statement.

Parliament is expected to meet on Monday to validate May 12 as the date for the ballot, as suggested by the government, or agree another date in May.

Abadi is seeking re-election, building on a surge in his popularity among Iraq's majority Shiite Arab community after leading the three-year fight against Daesh (ISIS) militants, supported by a U.S.-led coalition.

"Postponing the elections would set a dangerous precedent, undermining the constitution and damaging Iraq‌s long-term democratic development," the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said in a statement on Thursday.

The United States had shown understanding for Abadi's move in October to dislodge Kurdish fighters from the oil rich northern region of Kirkuk, even though the Kurds are traditional allies of Washington and played a key part in the war against Daesh militants.

The United Nations estimates the total number of people who remain displaced in Iraq at 2.6 million, mostly Sunni Arabs from areas previously controlled by ISIS.

The role of prime minister is reserved for the Shiite Arabs under a power-sharing system set up after the 2003 U.S-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Arab.

The largely ceremonial office of president is reserved for a Kurdish member of parliament, while the speaker of parliament is drawn from among Sunni Arab MPs.


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