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Iraqi Legislators, Criticized For Inaction, Eye Shorter Spring Break

Iraq's National Assembly in Baghdad (file photo)

Iraq's National Assembly in Baghdad (file photo)

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi lawmakers are considering halving their spring vacation, amid criticism that parliament has done little since it convened four months ago, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Iden Akso, an adviser to the speaker of parliament, told RFE/RL that a resolution was in the pipeline to halve the parliament's spring break -- currently from mid-April to mid-June -- to one month in order to expedite the lawmaking process and make up for lost time "as the people are simply fed up."

Akso, however, blamed the Supreme Court for the poor performance of the lawmakers. "In 40 sittings of the first session of the new parliament only two bills have been passed and the reason is that the parliament has had its hands tied by a Supreme Court ruling," he said.

Akso said that "the parliament was able to debate and pass bills presented by any of its committees or no less than 10 lawmakers but the Supreme Court has ruled that only the executive can propose bills to parliament."

He added that since the ruling, parliament had not received any bills from the government.

Akso confirmed that as of this week the parliament has decided to override the Supreme Court's ruling and revert to the previous practice of debating bills presented from the floor.

Muhsin al-Sadun, a member of the legal committee and a lawmaker from the Kurdish bloc, said that he was hopeful the parliament will in the coming period be able to overcome the backlog of important bills left over from the previous legislature.

Sadun said that priority was being given to vital legislation directly affecting people's lives like bills on corruption, political parties, freedom of assembly, and hydrocarbons.

Hashim Hassan, a professor of journalism at Baghdad University's college of media studies, says that "the parliament is an anomaly having turned into a forum for bombastic rhetoric, soporific homilies, and grandstanding."

Hassan adds that "most lawmakers are semi-illiterate in the art of debate and questioning, not to mention their disregard for time."

He says the public is disillusioned with a parliament that does not legislate at a time when people are seething for lack of basic services.