Iraq Prosecutor Says Sick President Should Be Replaced


Iraq's chief prosecutor called on parliament on Monday to replace President Jalal Talabani, who has been receiving treatment in Germany for almost five months, but MPs rejected the appeal.

Ghadanfar Hammud al-Jassem made the call in a letter to parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, citing Article 72 of the Iraqi constitution, which requires a new president to be elected if the post "becomes vacant for any reason."

The letter, a copy of which was posted online, said it was the statutory duty of prosecutors to "protect the system of the state, its security and its institutions, and guarantee democracy and the higher interests of the people."

But members of parliament's legal committee reviewed the request and rejected it as "unconstitutional and illegal," committee chairman Khaled al-Shwani told Agence France Presse.

Shwani said that there was no basis for Jassem to make such a request, and that Article 72 stipulated that a new president should be elected if the position fell vacant, not if the president was absent.

Talabani, 79, traveled to Germany in December after what state television reported was a stroke, the latest in a series of health problems he has suffered in recent years.

The health of the veteran Kurdish former rebel leader has major political implications in Iraq, where he has played a prominent role in seeking reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and Kurds and Arabs.

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