Thursday, February 11, 2010

Struggle Over Control of Salahaddin Province

There is an on-gowing dispute over control of the northern province of Salahaddin, but few details have been revealed as to just what it is about. The struggle began in January 2010 when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sent a letter to the governor of Salahaddin, Mutashar Hussein Alawi, saying that he was dismissed, and that he would have to leave office as soon as another governor was appointed. Under the 2008 Provincial Powers Act the Prime Minister has the authority to remove any governor, but the request must go through the parliament. There is no word whether that latter step has been taken. Governor Alawi responded by saying that he would not step down until he gets orders to do so from the Presidential Council. The Council has to sign off on the decisions of the legislature for them to go into affect.

Despite the procedures laid out under the Provincial Powers Act for the removal of a governor not having been fully implemented yet, on January 20 Maliki ordered the Iraqi Army to take over the provincial council building in Tikrit, Salahaddin’s capital. The soldiers turned away all employees and residents who attempted to enter the offices. The commander of the unit said that he would be running things until a new governor was sworn in. He has been in charge ever since, and he still has not allowed any employees to go back to work. On February 9, he even stopped the provincial council from entering their offices. The standoff led to a demonstration in Tikrit against the dismissal on February 10. Several hundred protestors were said to have come out for the occasion.

Why Prime Minister Maliki decided to dismiss Governor Alawi has not been revealed. Whether Maliki sent his request to get rid of the governor to parliament is also not known. The governor has the ability to protest his dismissal by going to the Supreme Federal Court, and continue with his duties until the judges make a decision, but Alawi has apparently not done this. He is instead insisting that he is still governor until the Presidential Council says otherwise. That’s been made moot by the fact that the security forces are not allowing him to do any of his official duties. Provincial councils also elect the governors, but in this case, the Army has shut them out as well. This is another example of the lack of rule of law in Iraq. The legal procedures laid out in the 2008 Provincial Powers Act are apparently not being followed and the chief executives of the country and Salahaddin are instead resorting to a battle of wills until the other backs down.

SOURCES

AK News, “Security source: Iraqi military force seized Salahaddin Governorate,” 1/21/10

Aswat al-Iraq, “Army forces besiege Salah al-Din council,” 2/9/10
- “Army prevents personnel from entering Salah al-Din building,” 2/7/10
- “Demonstrations in Salah al-Din against security forces,” 2/10/10
- “Security forces surround provincial building in Salah al-Din,” 1/25/10

Iraq Strengthening Provincial and Local Government Program, “PPA Question and Answer Guide,” United States Agency for International Development, 2/27/09

2 comments:

amagi said...

I was hoping you would do an entry on this bit of drama, so thank you for anticipating my request.

This whole thing would be comical if it weren't symbolic of larger difficulties. 'Rule of Law' indeed!

The reasons behind the expulsion aren't known, but maybe you have an educated guess?

Joel Wing said...

amagi,

Hopefully the new story I posted will answer your questions about what Maliki is doing in Salahaddin. The New York Times also had a story on it, but they got a lot of facts wrong while providing some new information as well.

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