Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A controversial vote of confidence against Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari was placed on the Iraqi parliament’s agenda on Thursday, but it failed to go through after enough lawmakers failed to show up to make the quorum.
Rudaw's Bahman Hassan in Baghdad reported that "today's assembly was postponed to after the Eid holiday (on Sept. 12) and parliament is expected to meet on September 20.”
He said some factions in parliament had stayed away from Thursday’s session in order not to take part in a possible voting against Zebari, who is a veteran politician and a Kurd.
Sources told Rudaw that at least 70 MPs have left Iraq for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, while others have gone abroad for the Eid holidays.
“In Tuesday’s session only 73 parliamentarians attended,” said Ahmed Haji Rasheed, head of the Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal).
Zebari is not the only minister to be facing a possible vote against him in the 328-seat parliament. Last month, the former Iraqi defense minister, Khaled al-Obeidi, was ousted by lawmakers in a secret ballot criticized by Prime Minister Haider Abadi.
Haitham Jabouri, an MP from the State of Law faction of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, has collected 100 signatures from fellow lawmakers in order to summon Zebari for questioning.
For a no-confidence motion to pass, 165 lawmakers must vote against a minister, while only 100 have been collected so far against Zebari.
Some of the Kurdish factions in the Iraqi parliament have galvanized to throttle the no-confidence motion against Zebari.
Lawmaker Shirin Raza said the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has collected 85 signatures calling for annulment of the no-confidence motion against Zebari.
“We could increase the number of signatures, even some MPs who had given adherence to Haithen Jabouri’s petition, joined us and withdrew their signatures,” Raza told Rudaw.
Kurds hold 62 seats in the Iraqi parliament and three ministerial posts in Abadi's government.
Zebari has been the finance minister since October 2014. Before that, he was Iraq's foreign minister since 2005. Lawmakers, in particular from the Shiite Daawa Party, have accused Zebari of mismanaging the country's finances, which the minister denies.
On Tuesday, commenting on the MPs planning to summon Zebari, Abadi said that the Iraqi parliament had overstepped its monitoring role and been dishonest with the Iraqi people.
“Questioning is always on political practices, if the political practice of the minister is not satisfactory, if he does not have enough administrative and leadership skills, the questioning should be on this,” Abadi told reporters at a news conference in Baghdad.
He said MPs should not summon ministers for questioning, because that can be done by “other state bodies, such as the financial watchdog or Integrity Committee.”
Abadi strongly criticized MPs for voting on impeachment of the defence minister in a secret ballot.
“The MPs are the representative of the nation. They have to be honest with the nation. They should not be saying something before the people and something else secretly,” Abadi said.
Iraq, its parliament and its politicians have been buffeted by sit-ins and strikes over the past several months, ordered by powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has been leading a powerful campaign against official corruption.