Iraq politicians wrangle to form government

Political bargaining comes as two suicide bombers attack town north of Baghdad that has resisted Islamic State rebels.

    Iraq politicians wrangle to form government
    Iraqi forces are trying to retake territories that fell in the hands of the Islamic State group [AP]

    Members of the Iraqi parliament are preparing to vote on a new government, a key moment for the country as it tries to mount a counter-offensive against the Islamic State group.

    Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abbadi's efforts to form a cabinet were hampered by last minute wrangling on Monday over who should get what post, and the Kurdish bloc's reluctance to join the national government.

    Abbadi was expected to include representatives of all the country's religious and ethnic components in a bid to save Iraq from collapse.

    According to a report on Iraqi state TV, Abbadi will have three deputies in the new government - one Shia, one Sunni and one Kurd. 

    Abbadi has until September 10 to submit his government for approval, or Iraq's president must select another candidate for prime minister.

    The political bargaining comes as violence continues across the country, and as the US government launches more air strikes to help government forces in their fight against the Islamic State group.   

    Earlier on Monday, two suicide bombers attacked a town north of Baghdad that has resisted the rebels, killing 18 people, police and a doctor said.

    A first suicide bomber blew up a vehicle packed with explosives to breach a barrier in a southern neighbourhood of Dhuluiyah, which the second bomber then penetrated, the sources said.

    Security forces and allied tribesmen then clashed with an armed group in the Jubur neighbourhood.

    Dhuluiyah was previously overrun by rebels but local tribes drove them out, and Jubur has put up fierce resistance to renewed attempts to take their town.

    More than 50 people were wounded in Monday's violence, the sources said.

    There was no immediate claim for the attack, but suicide bombings are almost exclusively carried out by Sunni armed groups, including the Islamic State group.

    Kurds meeting

    Meanwhile, the country's Kurdish political bloc were meeting to decide whether to participate in the next national government.

    The Kurds' top negotiator Hoshiyar Zebari told Reuters that the Kurds want to participate in the national government, but until now the National Alliance - the coalition of Iraq's Shia political majority - has failed to make substantive concessions.

    The main sticking point is the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) budget. This year, Baghdad stopped paying for the KRG's civil servants' salaries in protest against the Kurds' exporting oil to Turkey independently.

    After the Kurds met for a second round of talks on Monday, Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said "the Kurds are expected to reluctantly approve the cabinet and its plan".

    She said a lot of heavyweights who played important roles in the formation of Iraq since 2003 were expected to be part of the new government, including Ibrahim al-Jaafari, former prime minister.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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