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What can the Iraqi President do for Kurdistan?

Iraq’s newly-elected president, Fuad Masum was sworn into office last week. The ceremonial post of presidency in the republic has limited powers compared to the prime ministerial position.

However, the president of Iraq is the sole protector of the Iraqi constitution, and has executive power to sue governmental officials, including the prime minister if the constitution is violated.

Tareq Harb, a legal expert of Iraqi law says the presidential post is more than “ceremonial” because Fuad Masum has the power to withdraw confidence from the government through parliament, and can dissolve parliament. The Iraqi constitution also allows the president to use his powers to amend the constitution in accordance with Article 126 of the constitution. He is also able to perform the tasks of the prime minister when the post is vacant in accordance with Article 81 of the constitution.

Benefits of a Kurdish president of Iraq

  1. The president can sue the government for cutting the Kurdistan Regional Government’s share of the annual budget because the central government does not have the power to decrease or seize the budget of regions and provinces.
  2. The central government and relevant institutions can also be sued for not implementing article 140 of the Iraqi constitution.
  3. Military operations sanctioned by the prime minister can be vetoed or prevented if they do not have consent from parliament.
  4. The financial authority of the prime minister can be limited, especially when it relates to the central bank, ministry of finance and national budget.
  5. The president can play a decisive and important role in central government by overseeing the constitutional rights of both the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad. For instance, the Erbil-Baghdad conflicts over oil revenue, as well as Peshmerga merits and benefits is ongoing and the president can quell tensions by acting as a meditator.

Iraq has three main presidencies — Parliament — Prime Ministry and Presidency of the state. The three roles have been divided between the three main components of Iraqi society, although this division is unofficial, but it is an agreement that all sides acknowledge. Since the foundation of the new Iraqi constitution, the division has remained unchanged.

The division of roles provides Kurds with security, as well as Sunnis. In retrospect, the idea is that these three posts from the Sunni, Shiite and Kurd divisions will act as a “balance” to represent all components of Iraq’s society.

The role of a Kurd as a president in Iraq is influential because it makes Kurds a main player regionally, nationally and internationally.

About Sarkawt Shamulddin (54 Articles)
Sarkawt Shamsulddin is a political analyst on Middle East Affairs and co-founder of the Kurdish Policy Foundation

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