Iraq`s Maliki under pressure from court ruling, WikiLeaks

Iraq`s highest court told parliament to end the deadlock in forming a new government.

Last Updated: Oct 24, 2010, 23:02 PM IST

Baghdad: Iraq`s highest court told
parliament on Sunday to end the deadlock in forming a new
government, increasing pressure on Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki as he fights to secure a second term amid
WikiLeaks allegations of state-sanctioned torture.

Federal supreme court spokesman Abdul Sattar Bayrakdar
said parliament was ordered to end a recess and convene to
choose a speaker, the first step towards forming a coalition
in Iraq which has been without a government since March 7
polls.

"In a decision taken today, the Supreme Court ordered
parliament to return to its regular meetings and do its
regular work," said the spokesman for the court, whose rulings
cannot be appealed.

The Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc of former premier Iyad
Allawi narrowly won the election with 91 seats in the
325-member parliament, followed by Maliki`s Shiite State of
Law Alliance with 89.

Neither has been able to muster the majority needed to
form a government, despite back-door negotiations with Shiite,
Sunni and Kurdish blocs that also won seats.

Bayrakdar said the ruling was the result of an audacious
court action launched by a dozen civic groups aimed at ending
the political impasse.

The charities and pressure groups brought a case against
caretaker parliament speaker Fuad Massum on August 16,
accusing him of violating the constitution by leaving the
Council of Representatives` first session open, with no
progress on the election of a new speaker.

That, they alleged, was blocking the election of a new
national president and prime minister.

Massum, who as parliament`s oldest lawmaker holds the
post, had conceded that leaving parliament`s first session
open "was a violation of the constitution."

Massum told a news agency today the court ruling was "a correct
decision. I will follow it, and I call on all MPs to do the
same," although he had not received notification from the
court about when to convene.

The court ruling comes as Maliki supporters are convinced
that Friday`s WikiLeaks release of secret US military
documents on Iraq is a plot to undermine his bid to stay in
power.

"Maliki`s office destabilised by WikiLeaks revelations,"
ran a headline in today`s independent Al-Mada daily.

The nearly 400,000 pages of documents made available by
WikiLeaks chronicle claims of abuse by Iraqi security forces,
while others appear to show US troops did nothing to stop
state-sanctioned torture, rape and murder under Maliki.

PTI