The Iraqi Federal Supreme Court today terminated the tenure of Parliament Speaker Mohammed Halbousi, state media said, a decision with serious political implications that upends the career of Iraq’s most powerful Sunni Muslim politician.
Reuters reported that in a video shared by his media office, Halbousi said the decision was “strange” and implied that it violated the constitution and undermined national stability, though he did not elaborate.
“We are surprised by the issuance of such decisions, we are surprised by their lack of respect for the constitution,” he said.
State media said the decision was related to a Federal Supreme Court case brought against Halbousi earlier this year, without elaborating.
Re-elected in 2022, Halbousi was serving his second term as speaker, a post he assumed in 2018 and which, under the sectarian power-sharing system established after the 2003 US invasion, is the highest office reserved for a Sunni Muslim.
The court’s ruling is final and not subject to appeal.
Under the governing system in place since the post-Saddam Hussein constitution was adopted in 2005, the prime minister is a member of the Shia Muslim majority, the speaker is a Sunni and the largely ceremonial role of president is held by a Kurd.
But this sensitive, sectarian-based formula has often come under heavy strain as a result of competing agendas and has divided the spoils of oil wealth between powerful factions while failing to prevent bloodshed.
Halbousi, a 42-year-old engineer from western Iraq who worked as a US contractor after the invasion, cultivated good relations with Shias and Kurds who helped his rise to power.
Lawmakers had gathered for a regular parliamentary session and Halbousi was in the chamber at the time that the decision was issued, independent Iraqi lawmaker Amer Al-Fayiz told Reuters.
On hearing of the decision, Halbousi exited the chamber, Fayiz said.
Deputy speaker Mohsen Al-Mandalawi, a Shia, takes over as interim speaker until a new speaker is elected.
Halbousi’s ouster comes just over a month before Iraq, one of the world’s youngest democracies, holds elections for provincial councils that last took place a decade ago.
Source : MEMO