A letter summarizing coalition demands on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was released to the public through a state newspaper yesterday. Four senior politicians, who had met last month in Kurdistan, sent the letter to Maliki’s political bloc on Thursday. Should Maliki ignore the demands, the coalition leaders could force a "no confidence" vote.
In the letter, Osama al-Nujaifi, Massoud Barzani, Ayad Allawi and Moqtada al-Sadr called on the Maliki government to follow through, by May 15, on the promises made in the Arbil Agreement. That 2010 deal allowed Maliki to retain a second term as premier, even though his political bloc failed to win elections. Since then, Maliki has ignored several provisions and instead consolidated his power base while marginalizing Sunnis and Kurds.
The four leaders represent the largest groups in Iraq. Nujaifi, a Sunni, is speaker of the parliament. Allawi, who is a Shi’ite, represents the Sunni-supported Iraqiya party, which won the 2010 elections. Barzani is the president of Iraqi Kurdistan and a Sunni. Sadr is one of the top Shi’ite clerics in Iraq. Sadr and Barzani have recently referred to Maliki as a "dictator." Also, the Iraqiya bloc walked out of parliament in protest earlier this year. They were briefly joined by the Kurds.
Tensions escalated in December when the United States formally withdrew from Iraq. Maliki intensified what many believe is a harassment campaign against the Sunnis. Hundreds were detained and even Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was targeted for arrest. Currently in Turkey, Hashemi is to be tried on about 150 charges related to terrorism. He claims innocence and believe the charges are politically motivated. He wants the trial removed from Baghdad, where Maliki has allegedly been manipulating the judiciary.
Meanwhile, light violence over the weekend left eight killed and nine wounded.
In Baghdad, gunmen killed one civilian and wounded four more when they shot into a crowd gathered in the Saidiya district. A soldier was killed during a blast in Yarmouk. A bomb at the Shula home of an imam left only material damages.
Three dumped bodies were discovered in Tuz Khormato.
One civilian was killed and another was wounded when a sticky bomb planted on their vehicle in Haditha exploded.
A bomb in Rashad killed one Sahwa member and wounded another.
In Ramadi, a sticky bomb wounded two civilians.
A mechanic was kidnapped in Kirkuk.
A stun grenade was tossed at a lawmaker’s home in Diwaniya, but no casualties nor damages were reported.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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