Iraqiya ministers granted leaves of absence - Kurds support the decision
04/01/2012 14:42 Brought to us By: rileyjones

BAGHDAD, Jan. 4 (AKnews) - Six Iraq Iraqiya lawmakers have been granted leaves of absence by the Council of Ministers, a move supported by the Kurdish Blocs Coalition.

Iraqiya, led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, decided to boycott Council of Ministers and Council of Representatives' sessions because of the escalating political tensions with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition.

Maliki said a boycott is unconstitutional and last month threatened to sack any minister who snubs the cabinet.

Mariam al-Rayyes from the Prime Minister's Office told AKnews the Ministers of Agriculture Izz al-Din al-Dawla and of Communications Mohammed Allawi were formally granted leaves of absence by the Council of Ministers as part of a broader cabinet reshuffle to fill the boycotting ministers' seats.

"The Council of Ministers decided to assign the higher education minister Ali al-Adeeb to take over the Ministry of Education, the Minister of Planning Ali Shukri to manage the Ministry of Finance, the Trade Minister Khairallah Babiker to run the Ministry of Industry, the Environment Minister Sargon Salioh to move in to the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Minister of State for the Council of Representatives Affairs Safaa al-Dien al-Safi to manage the Ministry of State for Provinces Affairs, and the Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani to manage the Ministry of Electricity."

"The Ministers of Agriculture and of Communications had asked earlier for official leaves of absence accordance with the law from the Council of Ministers."

Rayyes added that this action will not last long and if the Iraqiya ministers continued to boycott the Council of Ministers then the Maliki is authorized, according to the Constitution, to sack them from their posts with the consent of the Council of Representatives.

The vice chairman of the KBC said this is a positive step and will help resolve the dispute.

Following Iraqiya's decision to suspend its attendance for the meetings of the Council of Representatives the Council's Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a senior Iraqiya member, decided to suspend the council until the Jan. 15 hoping the political differences would then be resolved.

The political tension escalated when Baghdad courts issued an arrest warrant for Iraqiya member and Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Maliki fired his deputy and senior Iraqiya member Saleh al-Mutlaq after Mutlaq described his boss as like a dictator.

The recent meeting held between Nujaifi and President Jalal Talabani in Sulaimaniya ended with an agreement that the judiciary puts a hold on Hashemi's case while preparations continue for an extraordinary meeting of political leaders to discuss their differences and develop solutions.