BAGHDAD — The speaker of Iraq’s parliament reaffirmed Thursday that lawmakers are prepared to oust the nation’s prime minister if he refuses to share authority with his political opponents and break a deadlock that has all but paralyzed the government.
The threat by Speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi, a leader in the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya political coalition, counters a claim last week by Iraq’s president that there is not enough support in parliament to call a vote to push Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki from power.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Al-Nujaifi said he personally believes Al-Maliki, a Shiite, should step down from the job that he barely won after national elections in 2010 failed to produce a clear winner.
Since then — and particularly after US troops left Iraq last December — critics have accused Al-Maliki of sidelining his political opponents and violating agreements to share power within a unity government.
The political deadlock has all but brought Iraq’s government to a standstill so far this year.
Bickering between the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad and the self-rule Kurdish region in Iraq’s north threatens to stunt vital foreign investment in the country’s lucrative oil production.
Provinces with majority Sunni populations have threatened to create their own autonomous regions. And political lethargy, combined with red tape, has delayed improvements to everything from the nation’s electricity system to job creation to rooting out government corruption.
The deadlock has continued against a backdrop of sporadic but deadly bursts of violence: 120 Iraqis have been killed over the last 10 days alone in bombings mostly targeting Shiite pilgrims and security officials across Baghdad and beyond.
“This is a dangerous matter that if continued would lead to catastrophic consequences,” Al-Nujaifi said as parliament prepared to return to work after a six-week recess.
He said Al-Maliki would be summoned for questioning in front of parliament within days. “And if there is a parliament majority that is not convinced with the results of the questioning, then the non-confidence vote will take place,” Al-Nujaifi said. He called the process “an attempt to put the country on the right track again.” — AP