Controversy Swirls Around Baghdad as Member of Parliament Calls for President's Ouster

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that a controversy is raging in the Iraqi parliament about the veto exercised by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani against a bill passed last week enabling elections in the fall. MP and former court judge Wael Abd al-Latif of the State Party charged that the veto was "unconstitutional." He said that when a bill is vetoed, it has to go back to parliament for another vote, and needs a 3/5s majority to overturn the veto. Abd al-Latif also pointed to the constitution's requirement that the presidential council act through consensus. In this case, Talabani and Adel Abdul Mahdi vetoed the bill while their colleague, the other vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, was out of town! He should have been consulted about appointing a proxy to vote for him but was not.

A member of the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front, Khalaf al-Ulyan, called for Talabani to be removed from the presidency, on the grounds that his veto derived from ethnic solidarity rather than from a concern to act on behalf of the entire Iraqi nation. On Saturday, Talabani consulted with Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, on the crisis. The bill had contained a provision apportioning power in Kirkuk province equally among Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds, while Kurds claim to be the majority there.

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