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Iraqi Parliament Blocs Agree On New National Council


BAGHDAD -- Leaders of Iraq's parliament factions have agreed on the features of a bill that defines the legal status of the proposed National Council for Strategic Policy and the mechanism whereby it will adopt decisions, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Iraqi parliament rapporteur Muhammad al-Khalidi told RFI on December 29 that following long and difficult negotiations, the major parliamentary blocs finished drafting a bill that provides for the formation of the council. It is to be voted on by parliament next week.

Al-Khalidi said the Al-Iraqiyah bloc proposed that council decisions be adopted by a two-thirds majority, whereas the National Alliance wanted 100 percent unanimity in order for a decision to be approved. They compromised on an 80 percent majority. Recommendations need a simple majority of 50 percent plus one vote to gain passage.

Osama Jamil, a member of the Kurdish parliamentary bloc, told RFI that the council is unlikely to adopt decisions opposed by the Kurds, although in theory the two big blocs -- the National Alliance and Al-Iraqiyah -- could collude to ensure the required 80 percent majority for decisions.

National Alliance parliamentary bloc member Khalid al-Asadi told RFI on December 29 that a council decision will be binding regardless of opposition as long as it is carried by the majority stipulated under the law.

Hamid al-Mutlag, a leading member of the Al-Iraqiyah bloc, told RFI that like many things in Iraqi politics, decisions within the council will most probably be taken by consensus.

The three politicians separately told RFI that the National Alliance will nominate 50 percent of the council's members, Al-Iraqiyah 30 percent, and the Kurds the remaining 20 percent.

Al-Iraqiyah bloc member Nahida al-Daeni told RFI on December 30 that the factions have not yet agreed on the number of members in the council, but the draft law specifies that they will include its president (presumably former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi); Iraqi President Jalal Talabani; Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki; parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi; and the president of the Kurdistan regional government, Massud Barzani.

Meanwhile, Kurdish parliamentary bloc member Mahma Khalil told RFI that as the Defense Ministry would be headed by a member of Al-Iraqiyah and the Interior Ministry by a National Alliance member, it was only logical that the Kurds would control the National Security Ministry.

Khalil said negotiations are under way with the prime minister, and the Kurds are convinced their demand to name the head of the National Security Ministry will be considered when al-Maliki fills the remaining ministerial positions in his cabinet.

But National Alliance parliamentary bloc member Muhammad al-Sayhud told RFI that the Kurdish demand is groundless because they have already filled their share of ministerial posts.

The Kurds hold five ministries in the new government, including the Foreign Ministry and one deputy prime ministerial post. President Talabani is also a Kurd.
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