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Iraq PM defends ruling placing key institutions under government control

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Sunday defended an Iraqi Supreme Court decision [interview, in Arabic] finding that several independent agencies must be placed under the control of the government. Among the agencies affected are the Central Bank of Iraq, the Supreme Commission of Human Rights, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the Integrity Commission [official websites], the Financial Inspection Office, and the Media and Communications Committee. The ruling, handed down two weeks ago, came at the request of Maliki, who had asked the court in December to clarify the government's role in the management of these bodies under the Iraqi Constitution [text; JURIST news archive]. On Sunday, Maliki stated that challenging the ruling would be an impossible effort that would assail the legitimacy of the federal judiciary. The ruling has been criticized by Sinan al-Shebibi, Governor of the Central Bank, who has argued that the decision will subject it to Iraq's international creditors [AFP report]. The decision has also been criticized by a member of the IHEC, who has claimed that it will adversely affect Iraqi democracy [France24 report, in Arabic]. The Council of Representatives, which oversaw the functioning of the Central Bank before the ruling, will hold an inquiry into the decision [Al-Baghdadia report, in Arabic] on Tuesday.

Maliki was recently able to form a coalition government granting him a second term as prime minister following another Supreme Court ruling [JURIST reports] that ordered the parties to form a government nine months after the March parliamentary elections [CEIP backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. In November, Iraqi parliamentary officials unanimously approved the power-sharing agreement whereby Maliki and President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile] will remain in power for an additional term, despite tension over governmental power positions for the country's minority Iraqiya alliance leader, Iyad Allawi [official website; Al Jazeera profile]. According to the basic terms of the deal, a new governmental office, the National Council for Strategic Policies, was created and led by Allawi as a check on the prime minister's power. The new agreement marked a significant step for the Iraqi government after months of political unrest following the elections. Key positions of ministers of defense, intelligence, security and interior remain unfilled following the deal.

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