Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Does the Constitution already limit Nouri to two terms?

Violence never ends in Iraq and Alsumaria reports that last night three religious scholars were shot dead in Kirkuk last night.   The flooding has become as consistent in the last two months as the violence.   Dar Addustour reports that heavy rains have left Baghdad streets flooded, traffic lights disabled, and home owners report that some have experienced electrical shocks in their homes as a result of the flooding inside the homes.   Today Kitabat compares Baghdad to a Hollywood novel (written by Jackie Collins?) noting the various responses to Friday's massacre in Falluja with various assertions and claims being put forward but maybe comparing it to a disaster movie would be more apt?

Meanwhile a new protest has broken out at Diyala University.  Alsumaria explains students are threatening an ongoing sit-in over what they are calling the abuse of religious symbols by a professor.  Iraqiya is calling on the Ministry of Education to step in and mediate the dispute.  Iraqiya is a political slate made up of various sects.  Ayad Allawi heads the slate and they came in first in the March 2010 parliamentary elections.  Those were the most recent elections and provincial elections are supposed to take place in April.   Alsumaria notes the president of the university has identified the professor in question as a law professor and states the teacher has been stopped from teaching classes while the university investigates the situation.  If you click here, you can see a photo of the protesters.

Nouri's State of Law came in second.  The Erbil Agreement (a contract brokered by the US government) gave him a second term as prime minister.   Saturday the Parliament voted to limit the three presidencies (President, Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister) to two terms.  Wael Grace (Al Mada) reported that 170 of the 242 MPs present voted in favor of the law.  Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey and Andrew Roche (Reuters) add, "Lawmakers from Sunni, Kurdish and Shi'ite parties voted for the law, but the legislation still needs the president's approval and will face challenges in federal court after Maliki's supporters rejected it as illegal."  Yesterday Al Mada reports that the Federal Supreme Court is set to rule and is expected to rule that the law is Constitutional but that it cannot be retroactive.  Meaning the law will stand but it will be said to start a policy beginning when it was passed, therefore Nouri will be able to run for a third term if he wants to.

Today the Iraq Times offers a legal article that argues an interesting point which would require a legal ruling.  The argument they put forward revolves around Article 68 which is understood to state that the President of Iraq is limited to two terms. That's the interpretation of it, I've made that interpretation myself.  But that's the literal, word-for-word interpretation.  The Iraq Times argues that Article 68 is applied to all three of the presidencies.  The three presidencies are the prime minister, the president and the Speaker of Parliament.   They are interpreting Article 68 to mean the three presidencies.  That's an interesting interpretation.  To be applied, it would require a legal ruling. 

And I know way late this morning, but this is the sort of thing I can get lost in.  I actually think a fairly strong argument can be made for this. You can make a legal argument for anything, I know.  But if you look at the Constitution itself, you actually can build on -- and back up -- the argument the Iraq Times is putting forward.  For example, look at Article 77's First Clause, "The conditions for assuming the post of the Prime Minister shall be the same as those for the President of the Republic, provided that he has a college degree or its equivalent and is over thirty-five years of age."  If Article 77 isn't applying the conditions -- specifically Article 72's two term limitations -- then where is the prime minister's term specificed?  It's not.  If Article 72 isn't being applied to the prime minister as well, not only is the prime minister not limited to two terms but where is the term for the prime minister defined? 

I thought it was an interesting argument as I read over (and over) the Iraqi Times article but if you take the time to actually go through the Constitution applying this argument, it does get stronger and stronger.

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