ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Prominent Kurdish politician Hoshyar Zebari claimed on Thursday that both Iraq's parliament and cabinet have exceeded their constitutional powers by passing recent resolutions about May's contested election.
"The current mandate of the house of representatives (parliament) has expired and is not entitled to exercise its powers of law," read a statement he posted on social media.
In a vote on Wednesday, the Iraqi Parliament decided to freeze the work of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and ordered that nine judges were to take over its duties. These would include overseeing a full manual recount, following widespread charges of voter fraud in Iraq's May 12 parliamentary elections.
The decision was ratified the following day by the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council (IHJC).
Calls for a manual recount have been mounting since the election was held, with common claims of the malfunction or intentional misuse of electronic voting devices used at polling stations.
If implemented, the resolution would also cancel votes cast by Iraqis living abroad, those internally displaced by conflict and living in camps, and security forces in the Kurdistan Region.
"The house of representatives is authorized to submit proposals to the government," continued Zebari, who formerly served as Iraq's Finance Minister and, before that, Minister of Foreign Affairs for over a decade. "It is not within its rights to submit and adopt a draft law."
The claim that the parliament's term has concluded and is therefore is not empowered to pass legislation, presumably because the election has been held, does not appear to be supported by Iraq's Constitution. Article 54 stipulates only that the full term "shall be limited to four calendar years, starting with its first session and ending with the conclusion of the fourth year," and does not state that lawmakers have diminished powers in the interim between an election and when the next parliament is sworn in.
According to Zebari, the parliament in Baghdad "made itself an adversary and a judge... by amending the electoral law for the purpose of making gains for [electoral] losers, which is contrary to established legal principles."
Since IHEC is an independent commission, he said, "the house of representatives is not authorized to make decisions to transfer or interfere with commissioners except in accordance with the constitution and law."
Regarding investigations into the election that Iraq's cabinet has ordered, Zebari stated, "It is also not the prerogative of the Council of Ministers to set up a commission for intervention in [IHEC], because it is an independent body, and its work is governed by its own law."
"We fear that such violations will have serious consequences for security, stability and civil peace in the country and for the entire democratic process."
Zebari previously warned of dire consequences if IHEC's officially-released vote tallies were nullified by "losers" in the election.