Iraqi parties break off coalition talks

Iraq’s two main political blocs, led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and ex-premier Iyad Allawi, broke off coalition talks on Monday, dampening hopes of an end to a five-month-long post-election impasse.

A dozen civic groups, meanwhile, launched an audacious court action in a bid to break the deadlock over forming a new government, in the latest sign of growing popular discontent with Iraq’s political elite.

Maysoon al-Damaluji, a spokesperson for Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, which narrowly won the March 7 poll, said the secular group objected to al-Maliki’s labelling of them as a “Sunni bloc”, in a television interview to be broadcast on Monday.

“We ceased negotiations with [al-Maliki’s] State of Law,” she said. “We are not a Sunni bloc, we are a nationalist project.”

However, Allawi’s party left the door open for a return to talks. “We have asked him to apologise. Without an apology, we are not going to negotiate with him anymore,” she said.

While Allawi is a Shi’ite, like al-Maliki and the majority of Iraq’s population, his bloc claimed most of its electoral support from the predominantly Sunni regions of western and northern Iraq.

Iraqiya won the poll with 91 seats in the 325-member Council of Representatives, while State of Law finished with 89.

Neither bloc, nor two other major political groups that won substantial numbers of seats in the poll, has yet managed to form a governing coalition with the required majority, more than five months on from the vote.

Also on Monday, 12 charities and pressure groups brought a legal appeal to Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court against caretaker Parliament speaker Fuad Massum, accusing him of violating the war-wracked country’s Constitution.

They allege that by never formally closing the Council of Representatives’ first session, which was originally held on June 14, progress on the naming of a new speaker, the country’s president and prime minister has been impeded.

“We call on the Federal Court to require the defendant … to end the open session as it violates the Constitution … or call on the Federal Court to dissolve the Council of Representatives and carry out new elections,” the groups said in a news release.

While the Constitution stipulates that a speaker, president and premier must be elected in that order, analysts note the posts will likely be decided on jointly by Iraq’s main political groups as part of a grand bargain.

Massum, who holds his post by virtue of being Parliament’s oldest lawmaker, conceded that leaving the house’s first session open “was a violation of the Constitution, and … I will stand before the court to defend my stance, and I will accept any ruling the court will make”.

The impasse comes as Washington withdraws thousands of troops ahead of a August 31 declaration of an end to combat operations, by which time 50 000 US soldiers will be left in Iraq, down from the current figure of around 64 000. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Ammar Karim
Guest Author

Related stories

Iraq forces on alert after deadly Baghdad blasts

Iraqi security forces were on alert on Friday after a massive car bomb ripped through a funeral ceremony in a Shiite district of Baghdad.

Iraq looks for answers after deadly attacks

Iraq security forces faced charges of negligence on Tuesday after a devastating wave of attacks blamed on al-Qaeda killed 110 people the previous day.

Bombs leave trail of death in Iraq

Six bombs rocked Baghdad, killing at least 35 people on Tuesday, the second time the capital has come under attack in three days.

Baghdad bombings raise political tensions

The latest bomb attacks in Baghdad have increased pressure on Nuri al-Maliki, who is already in the cross-hairs of former Shi'ite allies.

Security forces targeted in Iraq attacks

A spate of attacks targeting security forces in the heart of Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul killed about 30 people on Monday.

More than 20 killed in Iraq violence

At least 23 people were killed in bomb attacks and shootings around Iraq on Monday as United States troops announced the discovery of a mass grave with the bodies of 14 men bound and shot in the head. The deadliest attacks were in Baghdad, where at least 19 people were killed in two car bombings.

Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

No proof of Covid-19 reinfection, yet

Some people report testing positive for Covid-19 after initially having the disease and then testing negative. Scientists are still trying to understand if this means that reinfection is possible

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday