Pressure on al-Jaafari to step down

Iraq's main political parties have rallied behind efforts to form a national unity coalition, while Sunni leaders say they are not dropping their demands that Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Shia prime minister, step down.

    Al-Jaafari's government has struggled to stem the violence

    Al-Jaafari, under pressure over his performance in the crisis and from US officials keen to see him bring minority Sunnis into government, hosted talks with representatives of the main political blocs on Thursday.
       
    Jawad al-Maliki, an al-Jaafari ally, told a news conference after the meeting of Sunni, Kurdish, Shia and secular leaders, along with US and British diplomats, that they had "agreed to continue the dialogue among all the blocs". 
       
    "Anything can be discussed at the negotiating table," al-Maliki said. "We have no red lines on anything." 


       

    "The negotiations will go on but we still insist on removing al-Jaafari"

    A senior official in the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front

    A senior official in the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front said that one key issue that other parties want to discuss is al-Jaafari's position as prime minister.

    "The negotiations will go on but we still insist on removing al-Jaafari," the official said.
       
    A week ago, the Front said it would boycott the negotiations after attacks on Sunni mosques in reprisal for an attack on a Shia mosque. 

    Al-Jaafari's government has struggled to respond to violence that has killed at least 478 people, by a conservative tally from Iraqi officials issued by the US military.

    He has ordered thousands of Iraqi troops and police onto the streets of Baghdad - backed by US soldiers - but their effectiveness is untested and loyalties uncertain in the face of sectarian militias to which some once belonged.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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