Iraq in the grip of a political turmoil

Posted: August 11, 2014 in World News

Iraq appears to be in the grip of fresh political turmoil, as a court denies naming PM Nouri Maliki’s bloc as the largest in parliament.

Such a decision would serve as a boost to Mr Maliki’s bid to stay on for a third term, forcing the president to ask him to remain in his post.

Pro-Maliki security forces took key sites inBaghdad overnight as the PM made a speech attacking the president. Mr Maliki faces calls to step down amid a jihadist insurgency in the north.

Critics say Mr Maliki, a Shia, has precipitated the current crisis through sectarian policies. Sunnis, Kurds and even fellow Shia have urged him to go.

Pro-Maliki forces were in evidence in key areas of Baghdad

US Secretary of State John Kerry called on the Iraqi PM not to increase tensions, and warned against use of force by political factions.

“The government formation process is critical in terms of sustaining stability and calm in Iraq, and our hope is that Mr Maliki will not stir those waters,” he said during a visit to Australia.

Earlier the US, which has urged Iraq to form an inclusive government, issued a statement backing President Fuad Masum.

In a separate development, US officials said Kurdish forces fighting militants in northern Iraq were “being armed by various sources” and did not deny US involvement. The Kurds have appealed for international military aid to help defeat the Islamists.

Official complaint

“The federal court announces its decision confirming that State of Law is the largest bloc in parliament,” state TV reported.

But shortly afterwards court spokesman Abdelsattar Bereqdar told BBC Arabic that it had asked Mr Masum to choose the bloc with the largest number of MPs without naming any bloc.

Correspondents say the question of how to define the largest bloc had been a major impediment to Mr Maliki’s ambitions since his election victory in May.

Mr Maliki had announced in a TV address on Sunday night that he was making an official complaint against President Masum in court.

He accused him of “committing a clear constitutional violation for the sake of political calculations and… giving priority to the interests of some groups at the expense of the higher interests of the Iraqi people”.

Mr Maliki’s coalition won the most seats in April’s elections but parliament has not agreed to give him a third term.

Mr Masum had violated the constitution twice, by extending a 7 August deadline for asking the biggest political bloc to nominate a prime minister and then by failing to ask the head of that bloc to form a government, Mr Maliki said.

Shia militiamen and security forces loyal to Mr Maliki reportedly appeared at key centres in Baghdad. There were no reports of violence.<a

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Source: BBC

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