In April 2009 the new provincial council and governor took office in Salahaddin following the provincial elections that year. On September 9, the new council voted 17 to 7 to dismiss Governor Mustashar al-Alawi of the Islamic Party and Accordance Front for fraud and refusing to appear before them for questioning. That started an eight month long crisis between the governor, the council, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that may now be finally over.
The dilemma in Salahaddin was that Alawi refused to step down for a new governor appointed by the council, while Maliki thought he deserved to have a say in the matter. First, the day after Alawi was voted out there were pro and counter demonstrations for his dismissal throughout the province. Governor Alawi then took his case to the Supreme Court, while suing the head of the council for having a criminal record and faking his diploma. That led to the council chief being forced out on October 11. The Prime Minister at first said that he supported Alawi, but when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of his removal, Maliki changed his mind. The council went ahead and elected a new governor, Ahmed Abdul Jabbar Abdul Karim, but Alawi still refused to leave office. On January 10, 2010 Maliki sent a letter to Alawi telling him to step down, and when he refused, the Prime Minister sent in an Iraqi Army unit to take over the provincial council building in Tikrit and force Alawi out. That wasn’t the end of the matter however, as the Army unit ended up keeping the council, government employees, and the public out of the building. That was because Maliki thought he should be able to name Alawi’s replacement. What followed was a new three-month long deadlock as no one refused to give, and the Army continued to command the council offices.
Finally, at the end of March the new provincial council head met with Maliki in Baghdad, and the two came to a compromise. A new governor Khaled al-Darraji would take office, and the Iraqi troops would withdraw. That finally happened on April 1.
The Salahaddin crisis was a sign of Prime Minister Maliki’s power, and the problems he will have holding onto it. In the test of wills between the Salahaddin governor, its provincial council, and the Prime Minister, Maliki won as neither Alawi or Karim became governor. It’s also another example of the Prime Minister acting outside the law by using the security forces to achieve his personal goals. It’s events like these that have made Maliki’s political rivals weary of joining with his State of Law to form a new government. They are afraid that he will continue to centralize power around himself and his Dawa Party, while sending the army out against his opponents or to impose his will on others. In the end, that could cost Maliki a second term as Prime Minister.
AK News, “’No Iraqi army around Salahaddin council building,’” 4/11/10
Hiel, Betsy, “Iraqi’s election warning ‘implied threat,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 3/25/10
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