ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) - The president of Iraq filed a lawsuit against its parliament speaker over what he calls constitutional violations in the 2018 federal budget that went into effect the day before.
President Fuad Masum filed the lawsuit in the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq on Wednesday, claiming 14 violations, most of which pertain to the share allocated in the budget for the Kurdistan Region. The petition also charges that the budget exceeds the federal government's jurisdiction on deciding how the remaining share of funds received by the region should be spent.
There has been no response as of yet from the office of Parliament Speaker Selim al-Jabouri.
Iraq’s Parliament approved the bill on Mar. 3 in the absence of Kurdish politicians, who boycotted the session.
Baghdad reduced the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget to roughly 12 percent, a significant drop from its previous 17 percent allocation, and did not earmark any funds for Peshmerga forces, the primary reason for representatives from the Region to protest the bill.
In mid-March, President Fuad Masum, a Kurd and co-founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), refused to approve the bill and returned it to the Parliament for amendment, citing multiple "constitutional, legal, and financial violations" within, according to a previous statement from his office.
On Thursday, Masum ordered the budget's publication in the Gazette without officially signing off on it, a way for the president to allow the law to go into effect while still registering his opposition to its provisions.
The Kurdish leadership has repeatedly criticized Baghdad for inserting the decrease in the draft budget without consulting Kurdish lawmakers, who point out that since the original number had been calculated based on population, it would require a census to justify such a change.
The 17 percent budget share was agreed upon between the KRG and the Federal Government of Iraq during the transitional period after the fall of the regime in 2003. No census has been conducted in the country since the 1980s, but there are an estimated 7 to 8 million people living in the Kurdistan Region, representing between 17 and 20 percent of Iraq's population.
Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have deteriorated considerably following the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region.
Also on Wednesday, President Masum led a high-level delegation from Baghdad in Erbil which attended the second day of mourning for the recently-departed brother of Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.