Splits paralyze Iraqi parliament
29 March, 2005, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Splits paralyse Iraqi parliament
Arguments over government posts have delayed forming a
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
As MPs haggled in the fortified Green Zone, mortar
rounds exploded nearby although no damage has been
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.
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 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
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
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,
A top oil official escaped assassination when his
convoy was targeted by a car bomb in the southern city