In a last-minute please

Al-Issawi pledges unity and stability ahead of speaker election

BAGHDAD – In an eleventh-hour move, Sunni politician Salem Al-Issawi has called upon the country’s political blocs and MPs to throw their support behind his candidacy for the speakership of the Iraqi Parliament.

Al-Issawi’s plea comes just one day before the crucial second session convened to elect a new speaker for the Parliament.

Taking to X platform, Al-Issawi outlined four key principles he would uphold if the elected speaker, emphasizing the preservation of Iraq’s unity, both in terms of its land and its people.

Al-Issawi enjoys the support of Sunni Siyada (Sovereignty) and Azm (Resolve) alliances in the speaker race.

Among his commitments, Al-Issawi pledged unwavering support for ongoing efforts to bolster Iraq’s security and stability. He also prioritized legislation aimed at fostering the nation’s economic recovery and development.

Additionally, Al-Issawi vowed to uphold the parliament’s “stature and importance,” while steering clear of narrow partisan interests.

During the previous parliamentary session in January to elect a new speaker, Issawi emerged as the runner-up in the speakership race, following Sha’alan Al-Kerayim. However, neither nominee secured the outright majority of MPs’ votes required for victory. Al-Kerayim later withdrew from the race amidst allegations, primarily from Shia MPs, accusing him of pro-Baathist sympathies.

Issawi’s main contender in the upcoming election is Mahmoud Al-Mashahdani, representing the Taqadoum (Progress) Party, which commands a majority of Sunni votes within the parliament. Al-Mashhadani previously served as parliament speaker from 2006 to 2008 and is said to enjoy the support of pro-Iran Shia groups as well.

The position of parliament speaker has been vacant since last November, when the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court ousted Taqadoum’s leader, Mohammed Al-Hablousi, from the speakership over charges of document forgery. In Iraq’s post-2003 political landscape, the speaker role has been reserved for Sunni politicians.