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Sunnis Still Boycotting Maliki Government

Sunni Arab politicians gave that a much-publicized broadbrush deal, insisting their boycott of Shiite Premier Nuri al-Maliki's government remains in place.

Sunnis Still Boycotting Maliki Government

Sunni Arab politicians gave on Monday, August 27, that a much-publicized broadbrush deal, insisting their boycott of Shiite Premier Nuri al-Maliki's government remains in place.

"We are not boycotting political dialogue, but this does not mean that we are returning to the government," MP Saleem Al-Jubouri, a leading member and spokesman of the Accordance Front, told Reuters.

Jabouri said the Front, Iraqi largest Sunni bloc, wants to see achievements on the ground before ending its cabinet boycott.

"Yesterday's agreement covered a number of issues…but we are waiting for action on the ground."

Maliki, Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, Shiite Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi and Massud Barzani, president of the autonomous northern Kurdish region, made a rare television appearance Sunday, August 26.

They agreed to support a new bill to replace the four-year-old de-Baathification law and make it easier for former Baath party members to take up government or military jobs.

The return to public life of former Baathists who have no criminal records has been a strong demand of the Sunni bloc, but the so-called Reconciliation and Accountability Law has yet to be approved by parliament.

They also agreed to set a mechanism for setting free Sunni detainees held without charges in US and Iraqi government-run prisons.

The five leaders also agreed to encourage the sharing of government jobs equally among all three communities, to hold provincial elections and to help security forces end the bloodshed.

The Accordance Front pulled its six Sunni ministers from Maliki's government on August 1, accusing him of failing to meet its reform demands.

Insufficient

Saleh Al-Mutlaq, leader of the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, dismissed the broadbrush deal as insufficient.

"It did not touch upon the most important issues such as the dismantle of militias and the oil law," he told the Doha-based Al-Jazeera news channel.

Sunni politicians have repeatedly urged the government to dismantle Shiite militias involved in sectarian violence and to pass a law ensuring a fair distribution of oil revenues among Iraqi provinces.

"The government is trying to show to the world that it is working, but it is a failure and has to go. It does not have credibility," said Khalaf al-Alayan, another leading politician and lawmaker from the bloc.

He said Hashemi had joined the other four leaders in announcing the latest political move in his capacity as a vice president and not as leader of the Front."

Omar Abdul Sattar, a leader of Hashemi's Iraqi Islamic Party, dismissed the agreement as stage-managed.

"It was an irrelevant media production," Abdul Sattar told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Iraqi political leaders have in the past announced broadbrush agreements but have battled to implement them or hammer out specifics.

US Welcome

The US has been quick to welcome the agreement, hoping it could ease sectarian violence.

"[It is] an important symbol of their commitment to work together for the benefit of all Iraqis," White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said in a statement.

She said the US continues to support "these brave leaders and all the Iraqi people in their efforts to overcome the forces of terror who seek to overwhelm Iraq's democracy."

The accord will give US ambassador Ryan Crocker some good news to deliver when he reports back to Congress along with the top US general in Iraq, David Petraeus, on political and military progress in Iraq.

US officials had been suggesting for weeks that Crocker would have little progress to report.

Crocker, himself, has been frustrated over the political paralysis that has gripped Maliki's government.

Last week, he dismissed the government's progress as "extremely disappointing," accusing Maliki of not doing enough to achieve national reconciliation.

In a bleak outlook of the political situation in Iraq, the latest US National Intelligence Estimate depicted Maliki's government as paralyzed and doomed to weaken in the coming months.

Of 40 cabinet posts — including the premier, his two deputies and ministers of state — six are unfilled, six are held by ministers whose resignations are pending and five by ministers who are boycotting meetings.

Since the Sunni boycott, a growing number of US politicians have spoken out against Maliki, with some like presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and Senator Carl Levin calling for him to be replaced.

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Last Mod: 28 Ağustos 2007, 15:38
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