Baha al-A’araji: 30 Draft Laws are Ready for Voting

Posted on | August 17, 2009

In al-Sabaah, the government newspaper, it was reported on 17 August 2009 that Baha al-A’araji had confirmed that the next session will witness questioning of ministers and officials. He also revealed a request to lift parliamentary immunity for Adnan al-Dulaimi. The article is translated below.

Baha al-A’araji, Chair of the Legal Committee in the Council of Representatives, declared that 30 draft laws are ready to be voted on during the next session. At the same time he stated that the Committee submitted a report to lift parliamentary immunity for Adnan al-Dulaimi.
Al–A’araji, in an exclusive interview to al-Sabah, said that ‘’the Committee received many draft laws recently. There are 70 proposals and draft laws, 30 of which are ready for a vote during the next session”. He referred to the fact that there are political disputes regarding these laws. Other parliamentary sources reported to al-Sabah last week that 150 draft laws are waiting to be discussed and ratified by the Council of Representatives in the next session. Al–A’araji further added that he believes that some of these draft laws will be delayed for many reasons. Of these reasons: “the Council of Representatives will give priority to the electoral law, Kirkuk, and open and closed lists as these require enormous efforts from the Council. Besides, the Representatives will be occupied with assembling new political alliances that are expected to influence the performance of the COR”. Also, “the COR during the next term will interrogate and host some ministers and senior officials which means that many sessions will be set aside for this purpose which will lead to a delay in the ratification of draft laws”. Al–A’araji remarked “ there is a desire among certain political blocs to hinder the function of the COR by ensuring no quorum in order to prevent questioning of ministers and senior officials until the session ends.”
Al–A’araji added “the most important issue in the next term is the State budget for 2010 which will demand a lot of work in the COR. Discussions on the budget will be spirited, with lots of argumentation among the Representatives, especially since the economic situation in Iraq has changed, and oil prices are fluctuating. This reality imposed many obligations on the Iraqi government from an earlier period which the Government must meet. He believes that “discussing the budget will be extremely political and will be designed to get votes”. Al –A’araji clarified that laws to be discussed in the next session of the COR are “the budget, elections, questioning and hosting senior officials”.
Regarding lifting the parliamentary immunity of Representatives, al–A’araji stated that ”there is a request to lift the immunity of Adnan al-Dulaimi. The Legal Committee has submitted its report to the Office of the Speaker of the COR, which in turn will submit it to the COR for a vote”. He clarified that there is another request to lift the immunity of Hasan Deekan, but there is procrastination by some members of the COR. He remarked that ”officially we have a request to lift immunity for al-Dulaimi but legally this does not equate to an accusation. It only enables the judiciary to pursue legal measures. If he is implicated then justice must be applied. Otherwise he can recover his rights as a representative in the COR with full dignity”.
Regarding the American dialogue with armed groups without the knowledge of the Iraqi government, al-A’araji stated ”the image is not clear yet and I believe it is a disturbance created by the Occupation Forces. This is a violation of the Constitution. Reconciliation should be among the elements of the Iraqi people. All powers should participate in the rehabilitation of both government and parliamentary institutions, without crossing the red lines specified by the Constitution, especially the prohibition on the Ba’ath Party re-entering the Iraqi scene. The government must take this into consideration”.
As for the outcome of dialogue between the Sadrists and the United Iraqi Alliance , al-Al-a’araji indicated that there is a response from the UIA to the demands of the Sadr trend. He added that the Sadrists are attending meetings, but has not yet officially decided to join the new alliance unless three conditions to be granted. The first of these is “that the new alliance must be truly patriotic, the mechanisms for decision-making must be set in advance, and leadership of the alliance is clear.”. He added “ if those conditions are granted, then the Sadrists will join the alliance”. Al-A’araji expressed his optimism that these demands will be met.
The Chairman of the Legal Committee demanded the adoption of “the open list” in the coming elections to give the voters a chance to choose their representatives in a correct way, not as happened in the elections of 2005. He called for an emergency or special session of the COR to discuss the security situation. He indicated that ”this is a patriotic and religious duty, but the COR did not hold such a session earlier because of a failure to get a quorum, even though most of the powers inside the COR are part of this tension”. Al-A’araji remarked that ”political competition is legitimate, but it should not affect security or shed the blood of Iraqis. We must differentiate between political and governmental disagreement. The Sadrists have disputes with the government, the Prime Minister and the majority of the political blocs. This is legitimate. As for security we are part of Iraq. We must stand with the government to protect our citizens. We have to cooperate with all the official institutions for security and public services and make sure to put aside our differences in order to safeguard Iraqis. This is what our patriotic and religious beliefs tell us”. Al-A’araji added that “ the Sadrists participated in a conference in Turkey a few months ago under the supervision of Muqtada al-Sadr. The conference was for the leaders and highly qualified individuals of the Sadrist movement in and outside Iraq. In this conference, they discussed and reviewed the activities of the Sadr movement and its parliamentary bloc. They identified many negative points which faced the movement, namely the political agenda. At the conclusions of the conference, they offered very useful recommendations”. As for the visit of Muqtada al-Sadr to Jordan, al-A’araji explained that ”the visit was at the invitation of the Jordanian government and parliament. We met Jordanian officials, the Prime Minister and some Jordanian representatives. We discussed issues related to the Iraqi people. We emphasized that the movement, and the Shiites generally, are part of the Arab world. We should not consider them as Iranian. We share with Iran our doctrine and borders only. Although we are on good terms with Iran, this does not mean that we are Iranian. The former regime of Saddam sent a mistaken image of us to the Arab countries: that we want to divide Iraq and we are disciples of Iran. It is essential that the leader of the Alliance and officials in the government visit the Arab countries to correct the mistaken ideas about the Shiites of Iraq, and to make them understand that the Shiites are against the division of Iraq and are anxious to have good relations with the Arabs”.

Baha al-A’araji is a member of the Council of Representatives and a member of the Sadrist Movement.
Adnan al-Dulaimi is a Sunni member of the Council of Representatives and former leader of the Iraqi Accord Front.