Iraq’s highest court ordered parliament to resume its work on Sunday, nearly eight months after inconclusive elections left the country without a new government.
Federal Supreme Court spokesman Abdul Sattar Bayrakdar said parliament was ordered to convene and choose a new speaker, the first step to forming a coalition in Iraq, which has been without a government since the March 7 polls.
“In a decision taken today, the supreme court ordered parliament to return to its regular meetings and do its regular work,” Bayrakdar told AFP. “It must start by choosing the speaker and two deputies, and then proceed step-by-step for the other nominations,” he added.
The Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc of former premier Iyad Allawi narrowly won the election with 91 seats in the 325-member parliament, followed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shiite State of Law Alliance with 89. Neither has been able to muster the majority needed to form a government, despite back-door negotiations with various Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs that also picked up seats.
Bayrakdar said the ruling was the result of an audacious court action a dozen civic groups launched in a bid to end the political impasse. The charities and pressure groups brought a case against caretaker parliament speaker Fuad Massum on August 16, accusing him of violating the constitution by leaving the Iraqi Council of Representatives’ first session open, with no progress on the election of a new speaker.
That, they alleged, was blocking the election of a new national president and prime minister. Iraq’s four main political blocs, none of which holds a parliamentary majority, have made little progress in cobbling together a governing coalition since the general election.
While the constitution stipulates that a speaker, president and prime minister must be elected in that order, analysts note the posts will likely be decided on jointly by Iraq’s main political groups as part of a grand bargain.
Massum, who holds his post by virtue of being parliament’s oldest lawmaker, had conceded that leaving parliament’s first session open “was a violation of the constitution.” “I will stand before the court to defend my stance, and I will accept any ruling the court will make,” he said.