How to Sack an Iraqi Prime Minister

The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
There has been lot of talk about signatures in Iraq lately. Most of it has been focused on a supposed list of signatories who asked President Jalal Talabani to stage a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Late Monday, both Maliki and Talabani confirmed the existence of some kind of petition addressed to Talabani; Maliki asked Talabani to hand the document over to the judiciary to check it for possible forgeries.
There are lots of problems regarding these alleged signatures, both at the technical level and in the broader constitutional context. Technically speaking, no complete document of signatures has been published so far. Most press reports deal with aggregate numbers of deputies for each of the blocs opposing Maliki, with only a dozen of independent deputies specified by name. Numbers of signatories vary from 176 to 200 plus. Several of the named deputies, minority representatives and one Kurdish party (Goran) have subsequently protested at their inclusion or specifically rejected the idea of a no confidence vote in Maliki.
More importantly though, these signatures – whether they actually exist or not – have no legal or constitutional meaning.
There are two ways of asking for a no confidence vote under the Iraqi constitution.