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Updated: June 11, 2012 16:19 IST

No trust note against Iraq PM falls through

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. File Photo
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. File Photo

The Iraqi Prime Minister has averted an attempt to destabilize his government of national unity by refusing to ratify a petition for a no-confidence vote because it lacked the needed number of signatures

Al-Maliki’s erstwhile partners have been pushing to unseat him with a no-confidence vote in the 325-member parliament, but appear to be struggling to muster the required 164 votes.

Last week, they said they sent a petition for a no-confidence vote with 176 signatures of lawmakers to President Jalal Talabani. On Sunday, Mr. Talabani said the petition only had 160 valid signatures, falling short by four. He said 13 lawmakers told him they were withdrawing or suspending their signatures.

Mr Nouri al-Maliki’s victory averts a potentially destabilizing contest to replace him, at least for the time being. The President said on Sunday that he would not ratify a petition for a no-confidence vote because it lacked the needed number of signatures.

At the root of the standoff is the unresolved power struggle between Iraq’s three main groups the majority Shiites and minority Sunnis and Kurds. Elections in March 2010 were inconclusive. Mr. Al-Maliki was able to form a fragile national unity government.

The rebels in Mr. al-Maliki’s coalition can also force a no-confidence vote without Mr Talabani’s help, but it’s a longer, more cumbersome process. After Mr Talabani’s ruling, Mr. al-Maliki called for more talks to resolve the coalition crisis. In the original coalition deal, reached after nine months of political wrangling following the 2010 election, Mr. al-Maliki made sweeping concessions in a bid to form a government. Among other things, Mr. al-Maliki promised to set up a body that would have final say on legislation and be headed by the leader of Iraqiya, but later back-tracked. Mr. Al-Maliki also failed to appoint defense and interior ministers, jobs he kept for himself as he tightened control over the security forces.

The deadlock has meant parliament is not passing important bills key among them those that regulate oil revenue-sharing.

The uncertainty has fed a number of Iraq’s ongoing crises, such as the conflict between the autonomous Kurdistan region in the north and the central government in Baghdad over the oil rights.

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