Rivals lack votes to oust PM, says Iraq president


June 11, 2012

BAGHDAD: Iraqi premier Nouri Al Maliki called for a national dialogue on Sunday after President Jalal Talabani said his rivals lacked the votes to oust him, but a protracted political row looked set to drag on.

Opponents of the prime minister have for months accused him of monopolising decision-making, with a political crisis that began in December worsening in recent weeks with open calls from multiple political parties to withdraw confidence from Maliki’s national unity government.

But late on Saturday, Talabani said groups opposed to the premier lacked the 163 parliamentary votes required to sack him, with Maliki pushing on Sunday for the country’s leaders to unite to rebuild the conflict-racked country.

“I take this opportunity to renew a call for all political partners to sit at the table for negotiations, and to be open to discuss all disagreements,” the prime minister said in a statement issued by his office.

“I am sure we will be able to overcome all challenges and difficulties that are in our way,” he added, while also thanking Talabani for his “constructive” role.

On Saturday, Talabani’s office issued a statement, saying there was insufficient backing to pass a vote of no confidence against Maliki.

“Due to a lack of (support), the letter of his excellency the president of the republic, although its text was prepared, was not given to the parliament,” the statement said.

It said more than 160 lawmakers had originally supported the motion to unseat Maliki and, by extension, his government.

They included members of the secular Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, the main Kurdish faction, and the movement loyal to Moqtada Al Sadr.

All three of those parties are members of Maliki’s national unity government.

At least 163 votes are required to pass a motion of no- confidence in the prime minister, according to Article 61 of Iraq’s constitution.

A no-confidence motion can be put before parliament either by the president or by one-fifth of the 325 members of parliament.

Talabani’s statement added, however: “Later, 11 of the signed lawmakers informed the office of the presidency of the withdrawal of their signatures, while two others requested to suspend their signatures.”

Agence France-Presse