Politics of Iraq


Politics of Iraq

The politics of Iraq takes place in a framework of a more or less federal parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Iraq is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly of Iraq. Politics of Iraq includes the social relations involving authority or power in Iraq. Before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Ba'ath Party officially ruled. The occupation yielded to an interim Iraqi constitution, which was replaced by a permanent constitution following approval in a referendum held on October 15, 2005.

A permanent 275-member Iraqi National Assembly was elected in a general election in December 2005, initiating the formation of a new government.

The Prime Minister of Iraq is Nouri al-Maliki, who holds most of the executive authority and appoints the [http://dev.epic-usa.org/files/EPIC/IRAQ_Government.pdf cabinet] . The current President of Iraq is Jalal Talabani, who serves largely as a figurehead, with few powers. The vice presidents are Tariq al-Hashimi and Adel Abdul Mehdi, deputy leader of SCIRI, the largest party in the Iraqi National Assembly.

Return of Sovereignty

The path to full sovereignty for Iraq was a gradual one:
*On November 15 2003 an agreement was released spelling out Iraq's path to sovereignty.
*On March 8 2004 an interim constitution, the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period was approved by the governing council, which further expanded on the structure established the proceeding November.
*Prior to April, 2004 U. S. government officials referring to the transition date Iraq had used the language "sovereignty" or "full sovereignty." For example, on March 15, 2004 U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage stated [http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040315-045145-6435r.htm] that on June 30, "the Iraqi interim government will assume full sovereignty and the United States will open a diplomatic mission in Baghdad, the largest U.S. mission anywhere in the world."
*On 28 June 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority dissolved and full governmental authority was transferred to the sovereign Iraqi Interim Government (IIG).

A few have asserted that the term "return of sovereignty" stems from a flawed understanding of international law: according to these individuals, sovereignty is vested in the people of Iraq, independently from the formal structure of the state. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1245135,00.html] The commonly-accepted meaning of the phrase, however, is the return, by one political agency to another, the exclusive rights to exercise supreme authority over a geographic region and group of people. Regardless, Iraq was set on a direct path to full democratic elections in January and December of 2005.

Interim period

In November 2003 the coalition announced plans to turn over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government by mid-2004. The actual transfer of sovereignty occurred on June 28 2004. The interim president was Sheikh Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, and the interim prime minister Iyad Allawi.

Under the interim Iraqi constitution, signed March 2004, the country's executive branch is now led by a three-person presidential council. The election system for the council effectively ensures that all three of Iraq's major religious groups are represented. The constitution also includes basic freedoms like freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, and in many ways has been hailed as more liberal than the U.S. constitution. Controversially, however, it states that all laws that were in effect on the transfer date cannot be repealed. Furthermore, since the coalition forces are currently an official occupying power under the United Nations, Coalition troops can remain in control of the country indefinitely despite the transfer of sovereignty. Since Iraqi forces are currently considered ill-equipped to police and secure the country, it is expected that coalition troops will remain in the country for many years to come.

Part of the proposed system (holding regional caucuses which then elect national leaders) was rejected by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, which resulted in massive peaceful (though unsuccessful) protests against the proposed systems. Sistani, the most senior Shi'a cleric in Iraq, declared the system as too easy to manipulate to elect an U.S.-friendly government and not representative of the people. However, the process used followed closely the November 15 2003 agreement established before Sistani's protests. That agreement established the caucuses for the IIG which indeed occurred in June 2003. The full elections for the Constitutional Committee occurred in January 2005, 2 months before the November 15 agreement's established date of March 31 2005.

Government

The federal government of Iraq is defined under the current Constitution as an Islamic, [Constitution of Iraq, Section 1, Article 2] democratic, federal parliamentary republic. [Constitution of Iraq, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/12/AR2005101201450.html Section 1, Article 1] ] The federal government is composed of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as numerous independent commissions.

Legislative branch

The legislative branch is composed of the Council of Representatives and the Federation Council. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 1, Article 46]

Council of Representatives

The Council of Representatives is the main elected body of Iraq. The Constitution defines the "number of members at a ratio of one representative per 100,000 Iraqi persons representing the entire Iraqi people." [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 1, Article 47] The members are elected for terms of 4 years. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 1, Article 54]

The council elects the President of Iraq; approves the appointment of the members of the Federal Court of Cassation, the Chief Public Prosecutor, and the President of Judicial Oversight Commission on proposal by the Higher Juridical Council; and approves the appointment of the Army Chief of Staff, his assistants and those of the rank of division commanders and above, and the director of the intelligence service, on proposal by the Cabinet. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 1, Article 58]

Federation Council

The Federation Council is composed of representatives from the regions and the governorates that are not organized in a region. The council is regulated in law by the Council of Representatives. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 1, Article 62]

Executive branch

The executive branch is composed of the President and the Council of Ministers. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 2, Article 63]

President

The President of the Republic is the head of state and "safeguards the commitment to the Constitution and the preservation of Iraq's independence, sovereignty, unity, the security of its territories in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution." [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 2, Article 64] The President is elected by the Council of Representatives by a two-thirds majority, [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 2, Article 67] and is limited to two four-year terms. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 2, Article 69] The President ratifies treaties and laws passed by the Council of Representatives, issues pardons on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, and performs the "duty of the Higher Command of the armed forces for ceremonial and honorary purposes." [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 2, Article 70]

There also exists a Vice President which shall assume the office of the President in case of his absence or removal. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 2, Article 72]

Presidency Council

The Presidency Council is an entity currently operating under the auspices of the "transitional provisions" of the Constitution. According to the Constitution, the Presidency Council functions in the role of the President until one successive term after the Constitution is ratified [Constitution of Iraq, Section 6, Chapter 2, Article 134] and a government is seated. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 6, Chapter 2, Article 139]

Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers is composed of the Prime Minister and his cabinet. The President of Iraq names the nominee of the Council of Representatives bloc with the largest number to form the Cabinet. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 2, Article 73] The Prime Minister is the direct executive authority responsible for the general policy of the State and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, directs the Council of Ministers, and presides over its meetings and has the right to dismiss the Ministers on the consent of the Council of Representatives. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 2, Article 75]

The cabinet is responsible for overseeing their respective ministries, proposing laws, preparing the budget, negotiating and signing international agreements and treaties, and appointing undersecretaries, ambassadors, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and his assistants, Division Commanders or higher, the Director of the National Intelligence Service, and heads of security institutions. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 2, Article 77]

Judicial branch

The federal judiciary is composed of the Supreme Judicial Council, the Supreme Court, the Court of Cassation, the Public Prosecution Department, the Judiciary Oversight Commission, and other federal courts that are regulated by law. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 3, Article 86]

Higher Judicial Council

The Supreme Judicial Council manages and supervises the affairs of the federal judiciary. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 3, Article 88] It oversees the affairs of the various judicial committees, [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 3, Article 87] nominates the Chief Justice and members of the Court of Cassation, the Chief Public Prosecutor, and the Chief Justice of the Judiciary Oversight Commission, and drafts the budget of the judiciary. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 3, Article 88]

upreme Court

The Supreme Court is an independent judicial body that interprets the constitution and determines the constitutionality of laws and regulations. It acts as a final court of appeals, settles disputes amongst or between the federal government and the regions and governorates, municipalities, and local administrations, and settles accusations directed against the President, the Prime Minister and the Ministers. It also ratifies the final results of the general elections for the Council of Representatives. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 3, Article 90]

Independent commissions and institutions

The High Commission for Human Rights, the Independent Electoral High Commission, and the Commission on Public Integrity are independent commissions subject to monitoring by the Council of Representatives. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 4, Article 99] The Central Bank of Iraq, the Board of Supreme Audit, the Communications and Media Commission, and the Endowment Commission are financially and administratively independent institutions. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 4, Article 100] The Foundation of Martyrs is attached to the Council of Ministers. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 4, Article 101] The Federal Public Service Council regulates the affairs of the federal public service, including appointment and promotion. [Constitution of Iraq, Section 3, Chapter 4, Article 104]

Local government

Iraq is divided into 18 governorates (or "muhafazah"):


#Baghdād (بغداد)
#Salāh ad-Dīn (صلاح الدين)
#Diyālā (ديالى)
#Wāsit (واسط)
#Maysān (ميسان)
#Al-Basrah (البصرة)
#Dhī Qār (ذي قار)
#Al-Muthannā (المثنى)
#Al-Qādisiyyah (القادسية)
  1. Bābil (بابل)
  2. Al-Karbalā' (كربلاء)
  3. An-Najaf (النجف)
  4. Al-Anbar (الأنبار)
  5. Nīnawā (نينوى)
  6. Dahūk (دهوك)
  7. Arbīl (أربيل)
  8. Kirkuk (or At-Ta'mim) (التاميم)
  9. As-Sulaymāniyyah (السليمانية)

The governorates are further divided into districts (or "qadhas"). As of 1 September 2008, eleven of the eighteen governorates are under direct Iraqi control: Al-Muthannā, [cite press release |title=Provincial Iraqi Control - Al Muthanna |publisher=Australian Department of Defence |date=2006-07-13 |url=http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/NelsonMintpl.cfm?CurrentId=5805 |format= |language=Australian English |accessdate=2008-09-24 |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ] Dhī Qār, [cite news |title=Power handover in Iraqi province |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5366270.stm |work=BBC News |publisher= |date=2006-09-21 |accessdate=2008-09-24 ] An-Najaf, [cite press release |title=Iraq Officials Assume Control in An Najaf |publisher=U.S. Department of Defense |date=2006-12-20 |url=http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=2478 |format= |language= |accessdate=2008-09-24 |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ] Maysān, [cite news |title=Iraqi Troops to Take Control of Maysan Province Next |url=http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2006-06/2006-06-20-voa35.cfm |work=VOA News |publisher= |date=2006-06-20 |accessdate=2008-09-24 ] [cite news |title=Iraqi forces take control of Maysaan Province |url=http://www.mod.uk/defenceinternet/defencenews/militaryoperations/iraqiforcestakecontrolofmaysaanprovincevideo.htm |work=U.K. Ministry of Defence |publisher= |date=2007-04-07 |accessdate=2008-09-24 ] Arbīl, As-Sulaymāniyyah, Dahūk, Al-Karbalā', Al-Basrah, Al-Qādisiyyah and Al-Anbar. Seven governorates are controlled by multi-national coalition forces: Baghdād, Salāh ad-Dīn, Diyālā, Wāsit, Bābil, Nīnawā, and Kirkuk (or At-Ta'mim).

Autonomous regions

Article 114 of the Constitution of Iraq provided that no new region may be created before the Iraqi National Assembly has passed a law which provides the procedures for forming the region. [http://www.niqash.org/intern/getBin.php?id=367 A law] was passed in October 2006 after an agreement was reached with the Iraqi Accord Front to form the constitutional review committee and to defer implementation of the law for 18 months. Legislators from the Iraqi Accord Front, Sadrist Movement and Islamic Virtue Party all opposed the bill. [cite news | title=Iraqi parliament approves federal law | url=http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/CrisesArticle.aspx?storyId=IBO145418&WTmodLoc=World-R5-Alertnet-4 | work=Reuters | date=2006-10-11 | accessdate=2008-04-18 ]

Creating a new region

Under the Federalism Law a region can be created out of one or more existing governorates or two or more existing regions. A governorate can also join an existing region to create a new region. There is no limit to the number of governorates that can form a region, unlike the Transitional Administrative Law of the Iraqi Interim Government which limited it to three.

A new region can be proposed by one third or more of the council members in each affected governorate plus 500 voters or by one tenth or more voters in each affected governorate. A referendum must then be held within three months, which requires a simple majority in favour to pass.

In the event of competing proposals, the multiple proposals are put to a ballot and the proposal with the most supporters is put to the referendum.

In the event of an affirmative referendum a Transitional Legislative Assembly is elected for one year, which has the task of writing a constitution for the Region, which is then put to a referendum requiring a simple majority to pass.

The President, Prime Minister and Ministers of the region are elected by simple majority, in contrast to the Iraqi National Assembly which requires two thirds support.

Political parties and elections

Iraqi National Assembly Election

On January 30 2005, the Iraqi people chose representatives for the newly-formed 275-member Iraqi National Assembly in legislative elections. Following the ratification of the constitution of Iraq on October 15 2005, a general election was called for 15 December to elect a permanent 275-member Iraqi National Assembly.

The unicameral Iraqi parliament, the National Assembly or "Majlis al-Watani", had 250 seats and its members were elected for four-year terms. No Ba'ath candidates were allowed to run.

In November 2003, the US-managed Coalition Provisional Authority announced plans to turn over sovereignty to an Iraqi Interim Government by mid-2004. The actual transfer of sovereignty occurred on 28 June 2004. The interim president installed was Sheikh Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer, and the interim prime minister was Iyad Allawi, a man who had been a CIA asset according to former U.S. intelligence officials ( [http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0609-02.htm "New York Times", June 9, 2004] ).

On January 30, 2005, a majority of Iraqi voters voted in an election conducted by their transitional government which elected a 275-member Transitional National Assembly. The election was seen by some as a victory for democracy in the Middle East, but that opinion is not shared by all, especially as most of the Arab Sunnis boycotted the vote. Seymour Hersh has reported that there was an effort by the U.S. government to shift funds and other resources to Allawi and that there may have been similar under-the-table dealings by other parties. Although he did not get the most seats in the Iraqi Congress, Allawi's delegation jumped from a projected 3-4% of the vote to 14% of the vote, giving him power in the writing of the Constitution.

The Iraqi Assembly would:
*Serve as Iraq's national legislature. It has named a Presidency Council, consisting of a President and two Vice Presidents. (By unanimous agreement, the Presidency Council will appoint a Prime Minister and, on his recommendation, cabinet ministers.)
*Draft Iraq's new constitution. This constitution was presented to the Iraqi people for their approval in a national referendum in October 2005. Under the new constitution, Iraq would elect a permanent government in December 2005.

Under the Iraqi transitional constitution, signed March 2004, the country's executive branch is now led by a three-person presidential council. The election system for the council effectively ensures that all three of Iraq's major ethnic groups are represented. The constitution also includes basic freedoms like freedom of religion, speech, and assembly, and is perceived by some to be more progressive than the U.S. Constitution. [http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/18267/] Controversially, however, it states that all laws that were in effect on the transfer date cannot be repealed. Furthermore, since the coalition forces are currently working to maintain order and create a stable society under the United Nations, coalition troops can remain in control of the country indefinitely despite the transfer of sovereignty. Since Iraqi forces are currently considered not fully trained and equipped to police and secure their country, it is expected that coalition troops will remain until Iraqi forces no longer require their support. However, these rules will be set aside once the Transitional National Assembly is seated.

On 5 April 2005, the Iraqi National Assembly appointed Jalal Talabani, a prominent Kurdish leader, President. It also appointed Adel Abdul Mehdi, a Shiite Arab, and Ghazi al-Yawar, the former Interim President and a Sunni Arab, as Vice Presidents. Ibrahim al-Jaafari a Shiite, whose United Iraq Alliance Party won the largest share of the vote, was appointed the new Prime Minister of Iraq. Most power is vested in him. The new government was faced with two major tasks. The first is to attempt to rein in a violent insurgency, which has blighted the country in recent months, killing many Iraqi civilians and officials as well as a number of U.S. troops. (As of mid-2005, approximately 135,000 American troops remain in Iraq with 2,214 U.S. soldiers killed.) The second major task was to re-engage in the writing of a new Iraqi constitution, as outlined above, to replace the Iraqi transitional constitution of 2004.

After the elections in December 2005, where 76,4% of registered voters participated, the Iraqi government is considered by 44 international governments to be a legitimate government. According to the U.S. administration, the judiciary in Iraq operates under the primacy of rule of law, so war criminals from the totalitarian regime of Saddam Hussein will get a fair and open trial, in which their rights will be subjected to due process and be protected by the scrutiny of a free press, the requirements of modern court proceedings.

ee also

* Reconstruction of Iraq
* Human rights abuses in Iraq
* Post-invasion Iraq, 2003–present

References

External links

* [http://dev.epic-usa.org/files/EPIC/IRAQ_Government.pdf Bios of Iraq's Government Officials] (as of July 20, 2006) -- An EPIC Resource
* [http://www.usip.org/pubs/specialreports/sr160.html Who Are Iraq's New Leaders? What Do They Want?] U.S. Institute of Peace Special Report, March 2006
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/middle_east/03/post_saddam_iraq/html/default.stm BBC Report: Who's Who in Post-Saddam Iraq]
* [http://iraqelectionwire.blogspot.com/ Iraq Elections newswire]
* [http://atlas-real.atlas.uiuc.edu:8080/ramgen/ips/acdis/acdis_iraq_2005.04.20.rm Video Seminar on Iraq Coalition Politics] : April 20 2005, sponsored by the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security at the University of Illinois.
* M. Ismail Marcinkowski, "Religion and Politics in Iraq. Shiite Clerics between Quietism and Resistance", with a foreword by Professor Hamid Algar of the University of California at Berkeley. Singapore: Pustaka Nasional, 2004 (ISBN 9971-77-513-1)


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