Iraq parliament session delayed over government impasse

  • Mon Jul 12th, 2010 6:38am
  • News

By Barbara Surk Associated Press

BAGHDAD — Iraq today delayed a parliament session scheduled for this week as the political impasse over who will lead the country drags into its fifth month.

The deadlock comes as U.S. forces are pulling out of the country even as politicians seem unable to compromise over the formation of their future government following inconclusive national elections.

“There are still differences in points of views, so it is impossible to enter the parliament hall,” said acting parliament speaker Fouad Massoum, warning that the next session could be delayed for days, if not weeks.

Elections on March 7 did not give any party enough seats to form a majority in the 325-member parliament. For the past several months, the major coalitions have been engaged in intense negotiations to win enough allies to form a government.

The alliance in early May of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s coalition and another Shiite bloc backed by Iran seemed to indicate the process was picking up speed with their super-coalition only four seats shy of a governing majority.

But even that alliance is showing cracks as many of the al-Maliki’s putative allies are virulently opposed to the prime minister keeping his job.

Massoum said the fact that the parliament was not meeting this week is a violation of the constitution, but he said that nothing can be done. Massoum did not clarify what he meant by the violation but one article of the constitution indicates that the new president should elected within 30 days of the new parliament first meeting.

Meanwhile, Iraq has issued arrest warrants for 39 members of an Iranian opposition group who have lived in a camp northeast of Baghdad since Saddam Hussein’s reign.

The development comes just days after American soldiers shut down their base near Camp Ashraf as part of the U.S. troop drawdown.

The presence of the Iranian group, which fought alongside Hussein during his 1980s war with Iran, has long irritated Iraq’s Shiite-led government.

A senior Iraqi judiciary official said on Monday that the wanted members of the group — known as The People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran — are suspected of committing crimes while helping Saddam crush the 1991 Shiite revolt.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.