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Splits paralyze Iraqi parliament

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4388919.stm 29 March, 2005, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK Splits paralyse Iraqi parliament Arguments over government posts have
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 29, 2005
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      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4388919.stm

      29 March, 2005, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK

      Splits paralyse Iraqi parliament

      Arguments over government posts have delayed forming a
      cabinet

      Iraq's parliament has begun a delayed second session
      amid continued intercommunal deadlock that has left
      the legislative process in limbo.

      The meeting came after two hours of last-ditch talks
      failed to achieve the modest goal of naming a speaker.

      Media coverage of the assembly was banned after
      politicians criticised the delays in forming a
      government.

      As MPs haggled in the fortified Green Zone, mortar
      rounds exploded nearby although no damage has been
      reported.

      Parliament is due to reconvene on Sunday to allow MPs
      more time to agree on a candidate.

      The BBC's Baghdad correspondent says there is growing
      frustration over delays in forming a government after
      millions if Iraqis defied the threat of insurgent
      violence to vote at the end of January.

      Delays

      Tuesday's session was meant to show that progress was
      being made, but has instead exposed tensions in the
      newly-formed 275-seat parliament.

      Proceedings had been held up for three hours as Shia,
      Kurdish and Sunni Arab members tried to agree on a
      Sunni Arab candidate to be speaker, as promised before
      the session.

      The Shia are pushing for the appointment of Fawaz
      Jarba, who is a member of the Shia-dominated United
      Iraqi Alliance, which won the elections.

      Kurdish deputies are said to favour another candidate,
      while Sunni Arab MPs and those not represented in
      parliament are split over they want.

      Mr Yawer, has been put forward as a compromise
      candidate, but he has turned down the position.

      "We demand to know the details of what's happening
      behind the scenes!" one female MP shouted before TV
      feeds of Monday's session were cut.

      During the heated debate interim Prime Minister Iyad
      Allawi stormed out of the session, followed by the
      interim President Ghazi Yawer.

      A parliament speaker is needed before MPs can begin
      discussions about the formation of the presidency
      council which will appoint the key position of prime
      minister.

      Control

      The appointment of a Sunni Arab is meant as a gesture
      to that minority which largely boycotted the
      elections, having held sway over Iraq during Saddam
      Hussein's regime.

      Iraq's fragmented political scene has been beset by
      further divisions over Sunni power, the role of
      religion and jockeying for Cabinet posts.

      The Kurds are expected to retain the Foreign Ministry
      and Sunni Arabs to get the defence ministry.

      But control of the oil ministry has proved a major
      sticking point between the Shia - representing the
      majority of Iraqis - and the Kurds.

      As the deadlock continued, insurgents have pursued
      their campaign of violence to destabilise the new Iraq
      taking shape under US-led occupation.

      Three Romanian journalists went missing on Monday, and
      are feared kidnapped.

      At least one person was killed and 17 others were
      wounded in a massive car bombing targeting a Kurdish
      official in the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday,
      police said.

      A top oil official escaped assassination when his
      convoy was targeted by a car bomb in the southern city
      of Basra.
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