Thursday, January 25, 2007

Paul Kiel: Iraq's Absent Parliament

Today's Must Read By Paul Kiel - January 24, 2007, 8:41 AM The New York Times checks in on democracy in Iraq, where "nearly every session" of the parliament has been adjourned since November... because as few as 65 of the 275 members there showed up. Why? It's irrelevant: "Deals on important legislation, most recently the oil law, now take place largely out of public view, with Parliament — when it meets — rubber-stamping the final decisions." Also, the country is very dangerous, and despite the $120,000 salary, the members say they can't afford adequate protection -- one member says that he uses 40 guards when he's in Iraq, and the salary only buys 20. And, well, there's the fact that the job has inevitably disappointed members who "were here for the game, for prestige, for the money,” as one puts it. As a result of the rampant truancy, the Speaker is contemplating "fining members $400 for every missed session" and replacing absentees. But... there's a problem. "For the proposals to be put in place, a majority of members in Parliament have to be present to pass them."

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