"He will win in the first round"

Progress Party braces for victory in Speaker race

BAGHDAD, January 14, 2024 – Ziad Al-Janabi, a leader in the Taqaddum (Progress) Party, led by Mohammed al-Halbousi, expressed optimism regarding Shalan Al-Kraim’s prospects in winning the speakership of Parliament. In a media interview, Al-Janabi said that the outcome seems clear as the date for the second round of voting approaches.

Al-Janabi highlighted the role of “communications outside the parliament” in influencing the proceedings of yesterday’s session. He criticized the decision to amend the bylaws of the parliament, which redefined “the presidency body” instead of “the Speaker and his deputies.”

During the interview, Al-Janabi explained, “There were agreements in the first round that the losers would withdraw in favor of the winner. Plans were in place for Salem Al-Issawi to withdraw in favor of Shalan Al-Kraim before the start of the second round. However, the presidency proceeded to amend the internal system after resuming the session and before the second round.”

He and many other deputies opposed this amendment to the bylaw, arguing that it strips the president of all his powers and is a dangerous indicator for the rights of the [Sunni] component. Al-Janabi questioned why a similar approach isn’t applied to the Prime Minister and the Presidency.

“The deputies were making decisions over the phone due to their affiliations with political and economic alliances, making these communications influential in choosing the president,” Al-Janabi said.

On behalf of 45 deputies from the Progress Party, Al-Janabi signed the nomination of Sheikh Shalan Al-Kraim, presenting it to all political forces. “Al-Kraim is the candidate of the majority Sunni,” he stated.

Al-Janabi explained that Al-Kraim has received wide acceptance from a significant portion of political forces, while others have reservations, and some, notably from within the Coordination Framework and the State of Law, officially proposed Mahmoud Al-Mashhadani. But the voting did not go as per the pre-agreement, and the decision to amend the internal system between rounds suggests that the Progress Party made concessions to secure the position, which Al-Janabi refutes.

“We are waiting for the session’s date to be set, and I believe the result is clear for Shalan Al-Kraim, and he will increase the numbers he achieved in the first round,” Al-Janabi concluded. He also addressed the published video of Al-Karim, stating that there are no legal issues against him as he has already been through the accountability and justice process and precedes everyone in parliamentary experience.