Iraq’s top court nixes Kurdish candidate’s bid for presidency — Analysis

The country’s ex-foreign minister, who had faced corruption allegations in the past, called the ruling an ‘injustice’

Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court ruled on Sunday that Hoshyar Zebari, a prominent Kurdish politician who served as the country’s top diplomat for over a decade, cannot run for president. The judges dismissed Parliament’s earlier decision to accept Zebari’s bid as “invalid,” a court statement reads.

The ruling, which followed last Sunday’s temporary suspension, is final and cannot be appealed. 

The politician has been facing corruption allegations for years and was fired by Parliament from his post as finance minister back in 2016; he lamented “Arbitrariness and injustice” in the court’s decision.

Zebari maintained his innocence throughout, and referred to corruption accusations as being politically motivated.

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The cloud began to gather over Kurdish presidential candidate earlier in the month, when four legislators urged the federal courts to ban him from the race. They accused Zebari and his team of corruption. The petition first saw Iraq’s top court suspend his bid temporarily, with the judges barring him from the race in the end.

The vote to elect a head of state was due to take place in Parliament on Monday but was delayed because there wasn’t enough quorum. It came after many MPs said they would boycott the vote following the Supreme Federal Court’s initial decision to suspend Zebari’s candidacy temporarily.

The inability to elect a president leaves a huge question mark hanging over what Iraq’s new government will look like, as by law it is the president who asks the winning bloc to form one. 

Divided along sectarian and ethnic lines, Iraq has been gripped by political instability and crises for months now, with the results of October’s parliamentary vote being confirmed only in December amid political bickering among rival groups. 

According to Reuters Zebari had initially high odds of becoming the president and winning the election. The chief executive’s role under the Iraqi constitution is largely ceremonial and reserved exclusively for Kurds.

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