Implementation of Security Council resolution 2421 (2018) - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2019/101) [EN/AR]
1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2421 (2018), in which the Secretary-General was requested to report every three months on progress made towards fulfilling the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). The report covers key developments relating to Iraq and provides an update on the activities of the United Nations in Iraq since my previous report, dated 31 October 2018 (S/2018/975), and the briefing to the Security Council, on 13 November, by my former Special Representative for Iraq and Head of UNAMI, Ján Kubiš, who completed his assignment on 15 December.
II. Summary of key political developments
A. Political situation
2. Despite endorsement by the Iraqi Parliament of 14 ministerial candidates on 24 October 2018, the formation of the new Iraqi Government under Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi has been stalled by continuing disagreements between political blocs over the allocation of the remaining eight ministerial posts, most notably the Ministries of Defence, Interior and Justice. In an effort to reach a compromise, the three Iraqi presidencies, President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi and the Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Mohammed al-Halbousi, have conducted extensive consultations with political leaders from all sides. The President has repeatedly urged all political parties to act in the national interest, to contribute to a stable political process and to support the Prime Minister in forming his government. Commentators from across the political spectrum are demanding an expeditious decision on the outstanding posts.
3. On 3 December, in the wake of the repeated postponement of parliamentary discussions on the outstanding posts, Prime Minister Abd al-Mahdi submitted a list of eight nominees to the Speaker and sought a vote of confidence. In a letter to the Speaker, the Prime Minister outlined the principles underlying his selection of candidates, which included public acceptability, political independence, efficiency, integrity, innovation, ethnic and sectarian balance, gender diversity and the reflection of electoral results. He underlined that all candidates had passed vetting by both the Commission of Integrity and the Supreme National Commission for Accountability and Justice, and warned that further delays in completing the government would undermine democratic progress.
4. On 4 December, a session scheduled for a vote of confidence on the Prime Minister’s eight candidates was boycotted by parliamentarians from the Sa’iron Alliance and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. After taking attendance of those present at the session, the Speaker declared that quorum had not been achieved and postponed the voting session to 6 December. In a press conference, the Prime Minister regretted that Parliament had failed to vote on the ministerial nominees, declined to submit new candidates and encouraged Parliament to agree to his selection. Parliamentary sessions in the following days, however, did not address the completion of the Cabinet.
5. On 5 December, the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker consulted on the way forward for government formation within the constitutional and legal frameworks. Underlining the need to avoid an escalation of tensions, the three presidencies promoted concerted efforts among all parties to overcome the political impasse and preserve national unity, in the interest of Iraq and its people. On 11 December, the Prime Minister sought additional nominations from political parties for the posts of Minister of Defence and of the Interior. In a further attempt to foster consensus, President Salih met with key political party leaders.
6. On 18 December, the Council of Representatives (the parliament) met to consider the eight Cabinet candidates proposed by the Prime Minister. At that session, the nominees for the Ministries of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Planning and Culture were formally endorsed. At a further session, on 24 December, two additional ministers, for Education, and for Migration and the Displaced, were approved. Three key posts (Interior, Justice and Defence) remain unfilled. Only 1 of the 19 ministerial positions (Education) was allocated to a woman. However, that post remains open, as the nominee has withdrawn her candidacy, following allegations regarding a family member’s affiliation with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
7. Meanwhile, on 10 December, the first anniversary of the military victory over ISIL was marked with a series of commemorative events in Baghdad and across Iraq. During a high-level ceremony at the Ministry of Defence, Prime Minister Abd al-Mahdi, speaking as Commander-in-Chief, paid tribute to all those from the security forces who fought and died during the military campaign. He also commended the leadership of the previous Prime Minister and of the Government and paid tribute to the Supreme Religious Authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
8. On 3 December, in Erbil, the Kurdistan Democratic Party announced that the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, would be the party’s candidate for President of the Kurdistan Region if that position were reactivated by the Parliament of the Kurdistan Region. The party also indicated that the Kurdish Regional Security Council Chair, Masrour Barzani, was its proposed candidate for Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Democratic Party confirmed that it had established a team to lead the second round of consultations with other Kurdish regional political parties on the formation of the next Kurdistan Regional Government. Most other political parties in the Kurdistan Region welcomed negotiations, although some indicated an interest in forming a parliamentary opposition. There has been limited progress on the formation of a new Kurdistan Regional Government in the weeks since the announcements.