Iraqi premier says rivals can`t form government

Iraq`s PM his Sunni-backed rivals, who narrowly won the March election, were wasting their time trying to form a new govt.

Updated: May 20, 2010, 21:04 PM IST

Baghdad: Iraq`s Prime Minister said Thursday his Sunni-backed rivals, who narrowly won the March election, were wasting their time trying to form a new government, a remark sure to raise tensions.

Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused the winning Iraqiya list of delaying the political process, even though it was the premier himself who mounted a series of challenges to the results postponing the final tally.

"I say to our brothers in Iraqiya list: You are wasting your time and delaying the political process," al-Maliki was quoted as saying by the independent daily Al-Mada.

Iraqiya won 91 of 325 seats in parliament over 89 for al-Maliki`s bloc. Because neither has a majority, they need coalition partners to form a government. Al-Maliki has already formed an alliance with another Shiite bloc that came in third in the election, and together they are just four seats short of a majority.

Iraq`s constitution says the bloc with the most seats should get the first crack at forming a government, which Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi believes gives him the mandate.

Al-Maliki claims that his post-election alliance gives him the largest bloc and the right to form the government.

Sunni anger over being largely excluded from government after the US-led invasion was seen as a key reason behind the insurgency and subsequent sectarian violence that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war. Now many fear that if Allawi`s Sunni-backed bloc is largely excluded from government the violence could return.

While violence has fallen dramatically in Iraq since the height of the insurgency, a spate of attacks, including one last week that killed 119 people, has heightened fears that insurgents are regrouping.

In the northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt at a police checkpoint on Thursday, killing one policeman and wounding 12 people, police and morgue officials said on condition anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Bureau Report