On February 6, 2022, the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq issued Ruling No. 3 of 2022 prohibiting Hoshyar Zebari, the former Iraqi minister of foreign affairs and former minister of finance, from being a candidate in the presidential election that was scheduled for the end of March 2022. (The election of the president in Iraq is done by the Iraqi parliament, not by popular vote.) The Supreme Court justified its decision by stating that Zebari had violated conditions for presidential candidacy under the Iraqi Constitution and the Law on Presidential Elections.
The Court’s Verdict
In its verdict, the court stated that Zebari was unqualified to be a presidential candidate. It found that Zebari was in violation of article 68(3) of the 2005 Iraqi Constitution and article 1(3) of Law No. 8 of 2012 on the Provisions of Candidacy for the Office of President of the Republic. Both of these articles stipulate that a candidate for the presidency of the republic must be of good reputation and known for his integrity, uprightness, fairness, and loyalty to the homeland.
Furthermore, the court stated that in August 2016, members of the Iraqi parliament interrogated Zebari regarding an accusation that he had committed acts of financial and administrative corruption. After hearing Zebari’s defense, the parliament issued a no-confidence vote against him.
The court’s verdict alleges that Zebari is a defendant in Case No. 98 of 2018 and Case No. 300 of 2022 before the Integrity Investigation Court. He is accused of committing the offenses of abuse of power and damaging public funds.
Initial Complaint against Zebari’s Candidacy
The court verdict was the result of a complaint submitted by two members of the Iraqi parliament before the Supreme Court requesting that the court ban Zebari from being a candidate in the presidential election. The complaint claimed that Zebari’s participation in the presidential election was unconstitutional because of the pending corruption charges against him. The complaint also cited Zebari’s spending around 3.7 billion Iraqi dinars (about US$2.5 million) illegally.
Responding in a TV interview to the accusations of corruption, Zebari said that he has not been convicted by any court but stated he respected the court’s decision to stop the procedures for his candidacy in the presidential election.
The Current Presidential Election
On March 30, 2022, Iraqi lawmakers failed for a third time to elect a new president for lack of a quorum. According to news reports, 178 members of the parliament out of 329 lawmakers were present for the session, which is far less than the two-thirds quorum required for the vote. The parliamentary session was boycotted by the pro-Iranian coalition in the parliament, which reportedly “does not seem willing to accept losing control of the legislature despite its failure to win the last . . . ballot” of October 10, 2022. The Federal Supreme Court had granted the Iraqi parliament until April 6, 2022, to choose a new president. According to the Arabic independent newspaper Al-Ghad, with the failure of the parliament to meet this deadline, Iraq has entered a “constitutional vacuum.”