Iraq talks falter over cabinet demands

The governing coalition in Iraq has run into fresh problems, with the main Sunni Arab alliance demanding eight posts in the new cabinet, including that of a deputy premiership and a key ministry.

    President Talabani expressed his frustration with negotiations

    The National Front, on Saturday, acknowledged mounting public frustration at the slow pace of talks and called for a meeting of all parties within 24 hours to thrash out a final agreement.

    Referring to what it described as the "regrettable delay in forming a government" 12 weeks after the landmark elections, the group called for a meeting within 24 hours between all the parties concerned with the formation of a government in order to solve the problem.


    With bombings and shootings bloodying the streets, ordinary
    Iraqis feel it is time for politicians to stop bickering and start
    saving the country.

    "More than 100 cardinals in Rome, who had a much tougher job, were able to come up [with a pope] within two days," said Amar Hassan, 40. "There is no reason why our lot should take so long."

    Iraq's new president, former Kurd rebel leader Jalal Talabani, voiced his exasperation on Friday.

    "I'm frustrated with the delay in forming the government," he said.

    Meeting with president

    The 30-plus parties within the National Front, most of them without representation in parliament after the widespread boycott of January's election by the Sunni Arab minority, met on Saturday after talks the previous day with Talabani.

    ''Arab Sunnis are not to blame for any delay in forming the government''

    Muhammad Shihab al-Dulaymi,

    Sunni leader

    The Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance took 146 of the 275 seats in parliament, while the main Kurdish bloc took 77. But both groups want to include the Sunni Arabs in a new government in an effort to wean the former elite away from anti-US fighters and into the political mainstream.

    Blame for delay

    Meanwhile, the deputy secretary-general of the Iraq's Unified Council (IUC), Muhammad Shihab al-Dulaymi, denied that the Sunni Muslims were responsible for the delay in government formation.

    "Sunni Arabs are not to blame for any delay in forming the government; only stubborn groups have to be blamed," he told Aljazeera from Baghdad.

    "We, in the IUC, have contributed greatly to the Front of National Groups, but it seems the groups who won the elections want to give only marginal posts to the national parties that have not participated in the electoral process," he said.
    He said the posts offered to the Sunni Arabs did not do justice to the demographic representation of the group.

    Al-Dulaymi said the IUC had asked for the defence ministry and seven other ministries. 

    He said it was agreed that Sunnis should get the post of the deputy prime minister.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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