Iraqi President Fuad Masum (center), Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (left), and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri. Photo: GoI
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Iraqi heads of government, state, and parliament are set to meet to discuss the overdue 2018 budget bill. This comes amid repeated boycotts by Kurdish MPs to block what they see as an illegal and unconstitutional spending bill.
The Speaker of Iraqi Parliament Salim al-Jabouri has sent an official invitation to the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Iraqi President Fuad Masum to meet to discuss the budget bill, according to Shwan Dawoudi, a PUK MP.
“The meeting might not change his mind,” said Dawoudi, claiming that Abadi does not want the bill passed so that he can spend money more freely for elections.
Iraq will hold parliamentary elections on May 12, but has yet to pass a 2018 spending bill.
“We believe that the three leaders should speak up. I call on the Iraqi president, who backs the Kurds, not to remain silent as he is the guardian of the constitution. He needs to prevent the unconstitutional things that are being done to take place,” Muthanna Amin, head of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) told reporters on Tuesday.
He added that Iraqi President Fuad Masum, a Kurd from the PUK, is the guardian of the constitution and should show a clear position regarding violations and mockery of Abadi.
Masum previously sent an official letter to Abadi
, instructing him to rectify the constitutional violations contained in the budget bill.
“The Iraqi prime minister wants to cut our livelihoods from us through political coercion,” Amin said, accusing the parliamentary head, who is a Sunni MP, of being complicit with the Iraqi PM, a Shiite.
Kurdish MPs have presented a united front in Baghdad.
"We have asked, as Kurdish factions, that the three Iraqi presidencies to resolve this conundrum. We have been notified by the President of the Republic that he has spoken with the Speaker of the Parliment to hold such a meeting to resolve this crisis," Arez Abdullah, head of PUK's faction, told journalists on Tuesday.
The Shiite parties have enough votes to pass the budget bill, but only if the Kurdish MPs attend to fulfill the quorom.
"If the majority principle is used, the National Alliance can indeed pass the budget bill. But our aim is to have a national consensus," Hanen Qadu, a Sunni Iraq MP, told Rudaw.
The Kurdish MPs again boycotted the parliamentary session on Tuesday when a second reading of the budget bill was inserted into the agenda.
"We have decided to not take part in sessions where discussions for the budget will take place. And we going to the session was just to prevent the reading as it started in absence of our will, so we wanted to prevent it," said Amin Bakir of Gorran during a joint press conference with fellow MPs from other Kurdish factions following the Tuesday’s boycott.
Kurdish MPs have a number of concerns, notably decreasing the Kurdistan Regional Government’s budget share from 17 to 12.6 percent.
The five Kurdish politicians factions have met with the prime minister, but Abadi has not changed his position. Speaker Jabouri told journalists on Monday that the proposed budget bill does not follow constitutional and legal procedures.
Three Kurdish MPs were suspended for 15 days on February 7 for trying to prevent a second reading of the budget bill in the assembly.