SOFA referendum: Updated

Posted on | June 24, 2009

Al-Sabaah, the Government newspaper, on 24 June 2008 reported on its front page that the Council of Ministers are to encourage the Council of Representatives to pass legislation to postpone the referendum on the US / Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement, which is otherwise due to take place by the end of July.

Update: On 3 August 2009, Al-Mada, a newspaper published by President Talabani’s Chief Adviser, reported that Sunni MP Abdul Karim Sammaraie has stated that “the government and IHEC are to be held responsible for not conducting a national referendum on the security agreement. Sammaraie said that everybody awaited the referendum and there was a law on conducting this referendum and that the government and IHEC should have made all the necessary preparations to conduct this referendum. Sammaraie added that this day was supposed to be a historical day in Iraq to have a popular endorsement on the agreement that is related to the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.”

Update: On 17 August 2009, Jurist, the legal news website, reported that Iraqi Cabinet had approved a draft bill that would require a referendum on the SOFA. Under the proposed bill, which must still be approved by the Iraqi Parliament and the Presidency Council, the referendum would occur during the parliamentary elections, scheduled for January 16. If the SOFA were rejected by Iraqi voters, US troops would have only one year to withdraw, which would result in a January 2011 withdrawal – nearly a year ahead of schedule.

Update: On 23 August 2009, the Financial Times also reported that the Iraqi Government were proposing a referendum on SOFA to be held at the same time as the national elections in January 2010.

The US / Iraqi Status of Forces Agreement and the Strategic Framework Agreement were signed on 17 November 2008, ratified by the Iraqi Parliament on 27 November 2008, approved by the Presidency Council on 4 December 2008, and published in the Official Gazette, issue 4102 of 24 December 2008. Its provisions came into operation from midnight on 31 December 2008 upon the expiry of the most recent UN mandate (SC Resolution 1790 (2007)) that allowed the presence of US military in Iraq.

The withdrawal of US troops from the streets of all Iraqi cities and villages at the end of June 2009 took place as planned under the terms of the agreement. The agreement provides for complete US troop withdrawal by from Iraq by December 31, 2011.

Article 12 of the SOFA gives Iraqi courts limited jurisdiction over American military personnel and eliminates immunity for US defense contractors working within Iraq which had been in place pursuant to CPA Order 17.

There are informative articles on the Ground Truth in Iraq Blog:
Don’t Expect Vote on SOFA Anytime Soon 29 July 2009
July Sofa Referendum 30 November 2008