Iraqi president Jalal Talabani calls for
dialogue to solve crisis
Iraq's President Jalal Talabani talks to reporters
in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: AP
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May 27, 2012
BAGHDAD, — Iraq's president on Saturday
urged the nation's bickering factions to resolve the
bitter political dispute that has gripped the
government for nearly six months, warning that the
crisis threatens to split the country.
President Jalal Talabani's statement, posted on his
website, is the latest plea for an end to the crisis
that has engulfed Iraq since Shiite Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki's government issued an arrest
warrant for the country's Sunni vice president in
December — just as the last U.S. troops left the
Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish politicians have been
holding meetings for weeks to discuss how to resolve
the deadlock, including whether to try to push al-Maliki
to step down before the end of his four-year term in
2014. Al-Maliki's critics accuse him of
consolidating power and sidelining both Sunnis and
Kurds, touching off a political impasse that has
brought government work to a near standstill.
Already, the president of Iraq's northern self-rule
Kurdistan region has said he will hold a popular
referendum on whether to secede if the deadlock is
not solved by local elections set for September.
"I am firmly convinced of the seriousness of the
current circumstances which require that we speed up
efforts to sit at the table of constructive and
fraternal dialogue," said Talabani, a Kurd, whose
post is largely ceremonial.
Otherwise, he said, the crisis "could lead to
growing tensions and exacerbate the risks and
Talabani in the past has played the role of a
mediator in Iraq's frequent political disputes.
The political threat to al-Maliki has shifted over
several months, and it's not clear whether
parliament will force the vote to oust him. The
prime minister on Saturday issued his own plea for
talks, saying "dialogue and clarity is what can
"The dialogue should be objective and on the basis
of acceptance of others," al-Maliki said in a
statement issued on his website. "Because (opposing)
lineups do not bring any good to Iraq."
After his political alliance fell short of winning
the most seats in parliament to a secular but
Sunni-dominated coalition in 2010 elections, al-Maliki
kept his job only by cobbling together enough
support from Kurdish leaders and hardline Shiite
cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, his longtime rival.
But over the last two years, al-Sadr has shifted to
the ranks of the prime minister's Kurdish and Sunni
critics, who complain that the government is corrupt
and is not doing enough to provide jobs and public
services like electricity for Iraqis.
Experts fear the political impasse will strain
already simmering tensions and ignite more violence.
On Saturday, a roadside bomb killed three Iraqi
soldiers in Badoush, a town in northern Iraq, two
security officials said. Badoush is about 20
kilometers (12 miles) northwest of Mosul,www.ekurd.net
Iraq's third-largest city and a former al-Qaida
stronghold. Both officials spoke on condition of
anonymity because they were not authorized to
release the information.
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