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Iraq's parliament session delayed after Sunni candidate rejected

Leila Fadel, Knight Ridder Newspapers

April 16, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The speaker of Iraq's parliament late Sunday postponed a scheduled session of the parliament on Monday because four months after they were elected, Iraqi lawmakers still haven't been able to form a new government.

Parliament speaker Adnan Pachachi, who last week said that a new government must meet to "keep the credibility of the Iraqi democratic experience," delayed the meeting for "a few days" after Iraq's most powerful Shiite Muslim political alliance rejected a Sunni nominee for parliament speaker.

Iraqis called the state-run television channel, Iraqia, on Sunday to voice their rage about the delay, calling it a "lack of leadership."

Iraq's leaders also remain deadlocked over a new prime minister. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has rejected demands that he step down. While the United Iraqi Alliance has indicated that it would allow Jaafari's Dawa party to nominate someone else, the leading Shiite alliance hasn't rescinded its nomination of Jaafari.

Members of the Alliance met late into the night on Sunday to debate whether to submit another candidate for prime minister or continue to back Jaafari, officials said. If another nominee isn't presented for the speaker's post, the political stalemate seems certain to continue.

Kurdish and Sunni parties strongly oppose Jaafari, but he's backed by anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The Bush administration has blamed Jaafari's refusal to step aside for contributing to the escalating violence between Sunnis and Shiites.

The delayed parliament session, the wrangling over Jaafari and the Shiite attempt to quash a nominee from the major Sunni list underscores the United Iraqi Alliance's inability to form a government and threatens to aggravate the country's sectarian strife.

Pachachi said in a statement that politicians need more time "to settle the sticking issues and to reach an agreement on the details of the national unity government."

"The nation's political parties supported the decision to delay the session until all parties agree on all the nominees for the key posts," said Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman.

While Iraqi politicians met in Baghdad, continued violence killed at least 17 people across the country on Sunday. Also on Sunday, four U.S. Marines from the Regimental Combat Team 5 were killed after injuries sustained on Saturday in Anbar province.

A homemade bomb inside a minibus near a Baghdad mosque killed four people and injured six.

Later that morning in northeast Baghdad, gunmen riddled a police patrol with bullets, killing one policeman and injuring four; in the slums of Sadr City two police stations were attacked killing another officer and injuring three.

In the Sunni suburb of Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, a car bomb killed eight people and injured 20.

Three men's bodies surfaced in the Tigris River with bullet wounds to the head.

Fadel reports for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Knight Ridder Newspapers special correspondents Zaineb Obeid and Ahmed Mukhtar contributed to this report.


:: Article nr. 22621 sent on 17-apr-2006 01:51 ECT

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