Iraq PM Maliki calls for early elections
to end deadlock
threatens early elections
to end deadlock
Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki speaks during
the opening ceremony of the Defence University for
Military Studies inside Baghdad's heavily-fortified
Green Zone June 17, 2012. Photo: Reuters
June 28, 2012
BAGHDAD, — Iraq's prime minister
threatened Wednesday to call early elections that
could tighten his grip on power if the nation's
political factions fail to break an impasse that has
all but paralyzed the government.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's gambit is the latest
in a months-long political crisis in Iraq that has
Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds alike calling for his
resignation. The impasse also has fueled fears of a
possible flare-up in violence by insurgents seeking
to take advantage of the chaos. Bombings targeting a
Shiite cleric and an anti-al-Qaeda militia fighter
killed at least 11 people Wednesday in Baghdad.
Al-Maliki, a Shiite, said continued refusals by his
political opponents to negotiate a resolution to the
crisis would leave him little choice but to call for
a new vote.
"When the other party is refusing to sit down at the
negotiating table and insists on the policy of
creating continued crises ... then the prime
minister finds himself obliged to call for early
elections in which the Iraqi people will have the
final say," al-Maliki said in a statement posted on
his official website. He did not mention a date for
Al-Maliki's threat to hold snap elections comes in
response to months of demands for his resignation by
Sunni, Kurdish and some Shiite leaders who say he
has sidelined them from power. It's unclear whether
they have the political will or enough support in
parliament to oust al-Maliki in a no-confidence
The influential anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada
al-Sadr this week joined al-Maliki's opponents in
calling for his resignation, raising the stakes
against the prime minister.
By countering with a threat to call for early
elections, al-Maliki is betting that his popular
support nationwide would hand him a clear-cut
victory and assure him undisputed executive
The current crisis began in December when the
government issued terrorism charges against the
nation's highest-ranking Sunni politician, Vice
President Tariq al-Hashemi, as the last U.S. troops
were withdrawing from the country. That prompted
Sunni politicians to briefly boycott the Cabinet,
and government work grounded to a halt.
The standoff also has raised fears that insurgents
could use the political chaos to try to reignite the
sectarian animosities that drove Iraq to the brink
of civil war five years ago.
On Wednesday, bombs targeting the Baghdad homes of a
Shiite cleric and a member of a Sunni militia that
fights al-Qaeda killed at least 11 people. The
attacks on two of al-Qaeda's favorite targets
brought Iraq's death toll for June to at least 186,
making it the bloodiest month since January.
Al-Maliki's threat to hold snap elections is in part
a response to al-Sadr's recent defection from the
support base that put al-Maliki in power after 2010
elections failed to produce a clear winner. The
prime minister has mentioned early elections
previously as a possibility,www.ekurd.net
and it's unclear whether he could convince a
majority in parliament to agree to it.
Al-Maliki's media adviser, Ali al-Moussawi, said the
prime minister still hopes to solve the crisis
The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for
2014. Under Iraq's constitution, a majority of
parliament's 325 lawmakers must vote to dissolve the
legislature to force new elections.
Sunni lawmaker Raad al-Dahlagi scoffed at al-Maliki's
threat, saying the prime minister is trying to avoid
making any reforms by "fleeing from solving the
crisis by calling for early elections."
"Anyway, it's fine to have early elections," he
said. "Who would win? It would be the same heads of
blocs, the same faces who are in the field now.
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