Shafaq News/ The leaders of the Coordination Framework, a consortium of Iraqi Shiite political forces opposing the October 10 election results, will convene on Monday to determine their collective position from the ongoing row over the presidency of the republic.
A source told Shafaq News Agency that the meeting scheduled for this evening will touch upon the latest developments in the political arena after the Supreme Federal Court's decision to bar Hoshyar Zebari from running for the position.
"The meeting will be held at the residence of Humam Hamoudi, the chairman of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council," the source added.
Yesterday, Sunday, Iraq's Supreme Federal Court has ruled that the former finance minister is not eligible to run for the presidency amid corruption allegations.
Zebari, a prominent Kurdish politician who served as Iraq's foreign minister for more than a decade, called the court's decision "an injustice".
He was finance minister when he was sacked by parliament in 2016 over alleged corruption. He denied the accusations and said they are politically motivated.
The ruling was the court's final decision after it issued an initial ruling last week suspending Zebari's candidacy while it looked into the corruption allegations.
"We were surprised by our exclusion from our right to nominate," Zebari said in a news conference on Sunday following the ruling.
"We respect the judiciary, but I have the right to say that there has been injustice and arbitrariness in the decision."
Earlier this month, four parliamentarians filed a petition to the federal court demanding Zebari's exclusion from the presidential race, accusing him of financial and administrative corruption.
Zebari, who was one of 25 presidential candidates, was a top contender to win the parliamentary vote to be president before the corruption allegations surfaced again.
Parliament had been due to vote on a new head of state last Monday but cancelled the vote because it lacked the quorum to hold a session after many lawmakers said they would boycott it after the Supreme Federal Court suspended Zebari's candidacy.
In a separate decision the Federal Court said that President Barham Salih, who is also running for a second term, will continue in his position until a new president is elected.
The court decision shuffled the cards of the populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who was the biggest winner in the October parliamentary election.
Sadr had campaigned in the election on an anti-corruption platform.
Iraq normally enters months of political deadlock after each general election as the political elite jockey for spots in the new government.
On February 9, the Coordination Framework forced an initiative to resolve the ongoing deadlock impeding the progress of the government formation.
The initiative was preceded by an attempt by the Kurdish leader, Masoud Barzani, during the visit of the president of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammad al-Halboosi, and the head of al-Siyada Coalition Khamis al-Khanjar to al-Hannana, the headquarters of the Sadrist leader Muqtada al-Sadr.
According to a source close to al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric is "unflinchingly" adamant about precluding the head of the State of Law bloc, Nouri al-Maliki, from the federal cabinet calculus "no matter how fierce Iran's pressure is".
The bloc of the firebrand Shiite cleric, already the biggest in the October 10 election, has been mobilizing impetus behind a "National Majority Government", challenging the status quo "consensus governments", the forces of the Shiite Coordination Framework have been lobbying for.
al-Sadr has said he will ally himself with whoever puts Iraq's national interests first. That is an indication, that he may exclude some Iran-backed Shiite blocs in favor of parties with cross-sectarian support.
Later, al-Sadr demonstrated a less defiant tone against the Coordination Framework parties but maintained a hardcore position from al-Maliki.
"We are proceeding with the formation of the national majority government and our door is open for some of those we still think well of," he said last month, referring to other members of the Coordination Framework.
The source close to al-Hannana said that the Sadrist leader would rather put the "National Majority Government" on hold for another four years than allow al-Maliki to take part in it.
"It is a irrevocable decision," the source said.
"Pressures, from Iran and other influential actors, are being exerted on al-Sadr to form a government that brings together all the political forces, including al-Maliki and his bloc, but he refused. Al-Sadr was adamant about it during his meeting with Qa'ani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force. He asserted that would rather convert to the opposition than share the cabinet with al-Maliki."
According to sources familiar with the last meeting between al-Sadr and Qa'ani, the Iranian commander handed al-Sadr a letter from Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, urging under him to "maintain the unity of the Shiite home at any costs."
Al-Sadr, according to the sources, responded that he will proceed with the "National Majority Government" with the participation of the Coordination Framework parties, except for al-Maliki, whom Khamenei deems unexpendable.
The long-running dispute between al-Sadr and al-Maliki is one of the main obstacles to any deal that might resolve the situation in Iraq, as the former blames the latter for the endemic corruption and security failure during his two consecutive terms as a Prime Minister. Their enmity dates back to 2008, when al-Maliki launched a military operation against al-Mahdi Army, the disbanded militia formerly led by al-Sadr.