Iraqi Islamic Party shuns Rafsanjani
The Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party said the visit to Iraq by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, chairman of Iran's Assembly of Experts, is not welcome, al-Iraq lil-Kul reported Tuesday.
Rafsanjani arrived in Baghdad Monday for a five-day visit, though his arrival was met with criticism from several top Iraqi officials.
IIP members said the visit is unwelcome and called on the Iraqi government to launch an investigation into Iranian interference in Iraqi internal affairs, which some say brought the war-torn country to the brink of civil conflict.
The party said in a statement that Iran should respect Iraq's affairs if relations between the two countries are to improve. The IIP blames Iran for interfering in Iraqi politics, supporting Shiite militias and transferring illegal weapons and drugs across the border.
The IIP of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi is a main component of the Iraqi Accordance Front slate.
Meanwhile, demonstrators took to the streets in Fallujah and other cities in protest of the Rafsanjani visit, calling the former Iranian president a killer.
Rafsanjani, for his part, said, following a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, that Iran is willing to offer assistance to the Iraqi people.
Kurdish lawmakers deny Iraqi election monitors
The Kurdish Parliament announced a committee in the Kurdistan Regional Government would supervise the May elections, Addustour reported Tuesday.
Kurdish lawmakers said Tuesday they would supervise their own elections, denying a supervisory role for the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq, which monitored the Jan. 31 provincial elections in 14 of the 18 Iraqi provinces.
The three Kurdish provinces and Kirkuk are scheduled tentatively to hold elections May 19. Karim Bahri of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament's legal committee said his office was the only body permitted to decide how to carry out the elections.
He noted, however, that his committee had officers who had worked in coordination with IHEC who would prevent any outside interference in the May elections.
Ali Qadir, the head of IHEC in Erbil, the Kurdish capital, said there were already internal disputes on the date for the elections, saying it may be necessary to delay the vote while all parties survey the election requirements.
Courts face political pressure over speaker post
Political disputes erupted over whether the Iraqi courts should seat Sunni lawmaker Iyad al-Samarrai as the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, al-Mada reported Tuesday.
Lawmakers in the Iraqi Parliament warned of political pressures facing the Iraqi courts over the decision. Iraq has been without a speaker since December when Mahmoud Mashhadani stepped down from the position.
Abbas al-Bayati with the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance, however, emphasized that the Iraqi judicial system is an independent body and above political influence. Bayati added that when matters go before the federal courts, it is because lawmakers respect its decisions, noting the importance of choosing a speaker.
Fadhila Party leader Hassan al-Shammari, meanwhile, said he did not anticipate a decision on the Samarrai appointment, saying the issue was too politically divisive to reach a consensus.
Samarrai in February fell just short of the votes needed to assume the speaker position.
(Edited by Daniel Graeber)