Saturday, August 19, 2006

Will the IAF MP’s resign?

The Islamist movement is studying how to respond to the convictions of Mohammad Abu Fares and Ali Abu Sukkar, who were convicted of inciting sectarianism by declaring Abu Mussab Zarqawi a martyr on pan-Arab satellite television. The movement had hoped that a statement reaffirming their moderation and loyalty to the state would be enough for the government to somehow make the case disappear from the court system. Now, there are obvious splits over the statement and over how to respond to the issuance of the final verdict by the appeals court. Al Arab Al Yawm promised a “surprise statement” by the IAF during the opening of the new parliament session. This did not materialize, suggesting that things are still being discussed (somebody spoke too soon).

From a constitutional perspective, the two deputies will lose their seats in parliament. Paragraph i of article 75 of the constitution says in part that no person shall become a deputy if they have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding one year for a non-political offence and has not been pardoned. Paragraph ii of the same article states that “Should any Senator or Deputy become disqualified during his term of office or should it appear after his election that he lacks one or more of the qualifications provided for in the preceding paragraph, his membership shall, by a resolution of two-thirds of the members of the House to which he belongs, be considered nonexistent and vacant, provided that such a resolution, if passed by the Senate, is submitted to the King for ratification”.

Supporters of the deputies will try to argue that the sentence is a political one, and thus article 75 does not apply. However, since the deputies were convicted under article 150 of the penal code, it does not seem that this argument will stick.

This means that the remaining step will be for the parliament to expel the MP’s. However, since this issue has not been listed in the royal decree calling for a special session of parliament, then to discuss this issue would be unconstitutional until parliament convenes for a regular session. This will leave the issue of membership of the deputies and filling their seats until the beginning of October, when the regular session is scheduled to begin.

There are two camps in the Islamist movement discussing their response. The leadership is interested in dropping the issue and moving on. They probably hope that the seats will be filled by internal elections in the parliament rather than through by-elections. Shihan suggested that there is a deal to this effect whereby the two vacant seats will be filled by moderate IAF members. This would be done under article 88 of the constitution, which does not really fit the situation.

The more radical elements in the party are demanding the resignation of all 17 IAF members from the parliament, as a protest against government “targeting” of the movement. It is also likely that a boycott at this stage will translate into a boycott of next year’s legislative elections.

The IAF boycotted the elections of 1997, and remained marginalized as a result until the 2003 elections. In historical terms, this boycott did little to enhance their standing, and is probably considered to have been a mistake. The leadership has been dragging its feet on making a decision, first waiting for the state security court decision, then waiting for the appellate court decision, and now still waiting, apparently for tempers to cool. The question is whether they will.



At 9:13 PM, Blogger Abu Shreek said...

I agree with Taher Odwan (below link) that this will be a grave mistake and an impulsive reaction. There are a serious number of laws that the oppressive regime are trying to pass, and whether we agree with their agendas or not, the IAF remains one of the few opposition voices that will stand for the peoples' rights (sometimes, according to the right osituation), and that is probably one of the reasons they were subjected to this whole thing in the first place.
Quitting is just like the word implies, an easy way out that will eventually pass unnoticed and allow the regime and its consecutive face-governments to have a complete control over the situation, eliminating any sof questioning the serious changes awaiting our political life.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Abu Shreek said...

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Abu Shreek: I disagree that the Islamists are a force for guaranteeing people's rights (normalization, article 150, honor crimes, the Khulu' law, etc....). I can give many examples. They only fight for their own rights.

Having said that, I agree that it would be a mistake for them to withdraw from parliament. From their perspective, it would be a loss of a valuable forum. For the country is would be difficult to see them on full display as they are now.

I have added your blog on my list. Did you notice?

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Abu Shreek said...

"They only fight for their own rights."

"(they) will stand for the peoples' rights (sometimes, according to the right situation)".

You can see from the parenthesis in my above comment that I agree with you. They look for the “opportunistic situation” that will appeal to their simple fan base and fits their agendas, but sometimes the stances they take are useful in the overall picture.
We know that this movement has always been in bed with the regime and the governments, but on the other hand, at times (unfortunately) they appear to be the only active, viable opposition.

I have noticed that you added me to your links. Thanks a lot.


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