The Federal Supreme Court said in a statement it decided to terminate Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi’s membership in Parliament along with that of lawmaker Laith al-Dulaimi. It did not elaborate on why it was issuing the decision.
Halbousi has been the highest Sunni official in Iraq. Under the country’s sectarian power-sharing system, the parliament speaker is always Sunni, the prime minister Shiite and the president Kurdish.
The court decision came against the backdrop of a dispute between Halbousi and Dulaimi, who is also Sunni. Dulaimi had filed a lawsuit against Halbousi claiming that the speaker had forged Dulaimi’s signature on a resignation letter, an allegation that Halbousi denied.
Halbousi said in a video statement following the ruling, “I am surprised by the issuance of these decisions. I am surprised by the lack of respect for the Constitution.”
He said that in his five years as speaker he had operated with integrity and “never discriminated between Sunnis and Shiites.”
Two Iraqi parliamentary officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the matter said the court decision cannot be appealed and the parliament will need to elect a new speaker.
The legislature will be managed by First Deputy Speaker Mohsen Al-Mandalawi, one of the officials said.
Halbousi could not immediately be reached for comment.
The political shakeup comes ahead of Iraq’s scheduled December 18 provincial elections.