Pressure on Jaafari to step down mounts, Mahdi calls for Jaafari to “step aside”; Jaafari’s nomination may go to full parliamentary vote
Support for current Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s bid to become the next prime minister continues to decline within his own United Iraqi Alliance. Aadil Abdul Mahdi, the current Vice President and SCIRI’s choice for prime minister during the nomination process within the UIA who lost to Jaafari by one vote, has called for Jaafari’s resignation. The BBC reports “After such a time of naming him, not getting approval of others, now even in the UIA there is some rejection, so I think he should step aside,” however Mahdi acknowledges Jaafari may be “willing to go to the parliament…. he will welcome the decision of the parliament.” Mahdi’s call for Jaafari’s resignation follows that of Kasim Daoud and SCIRI’s Jalal al-Deen al-Saghir.
Another member of the UIA, Mohammed Ismail Khazali of the Fadhila party, has called for a full vote in parliament to decide Jaafari’s fate, “The ball is in the court of the alliance who have to take a final decision on Jaafari,” said Khazali, “”I call upon a parliament session to decide on this issue as the alliance has been unable to decide till now.”
Jaafari is resisting the calls for resignation, and his choice to go to parliament is an interesting decision. Jaafari’s rejection by parliament would be seen as a democratic rejection of his candidacy, as majority of the parliament is needed to approve the candidate for prime minister [corrected].
The rejection of Jaafari by full parliament would also refute any claims of back-room dealings within the UIA to sabotage his candidacy. Jaafari could not claim the democratic process was subverted, and, perhaps more importantly, the UIA could be seen as remaining united, particularly if the UIA votes in full to support Jaafari. Jafaari can be defeated by the Sunni, Kurdish and secular Shiite blocks as the UIA has just under 50% of the votes. Groups within SCIRI which oppose Jaafari’s nomination would need to ensure there are enough votes to actually torpedo his nomination.
The down side to this process could be the outright rejection by both Jaafari’s Dawa party and Muqtada al-Sadr, who can bring his militias into the streets and create chaos in the center of Baghdad and the cities of Najaf and Karbala. Iraqi President Talabani is clear the opposition to Jaafari should not be perceived as opposition to Dawa or the UIA; “Our attitude towards Jaafari does not reflect that we are against his Dawa party of the Shi’ite alliance.” Talabani is attempting to split the alliance between Jaafari and Sadr, and isolate any potential Shiite driven violence to that of the Sadr camp.
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