Iraq`s Sunni-backed MPs end Parliament boycott

Iraqiya began a boycott of parliament and cabinet to protest what it charged was Iraq PM`s centralisation of power.

Baghdad: A secular bloc which won the most
seats in Iraq`s March 2010 vote will end a boycott of
parliament that it began in mid-December, a spokeswoman said
on Sunday.

"Iraqiya decided its deputies would return for parliament
meetings," Maysoon al-Damluji told a news conference after a
gathering of Iraqiya leaders and MPs.

The meeting was attended by Iraqiya leaders including
former premier Iyad Allawi, deputy prime minister Saleh
al-Mutlak, parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, and the
finance minister, Rafa al-Essawi.

"The deputies of the Iraqiya list will return back to
participate in the meetings of parliament next Tuesday. That`s
what we decided today," MP Aytab al-Duri told reporters.

The decision has not, however, been taken to end a
boycott of cabinet sessions by Iraqiya ministers, according to
Duri, who said "that will be the next step".

A row erupted over a month ago between the Shiite-led
government and the Iraqiya bloc as authorities charged Vice
President Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni and Iraqiya member, with
running a death squad.

Iraqiya began a boycott of parliament and cabinet to
protest what it charged was Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki`s
centralisation of power, and it has since called for Maliki to
respect a power-sharing deal or quit.

Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi
while Maliki, a Shiite, has said his Sunni deputy Saleh
al-Mutlak should be sacked after the latter said the premier
was "worse than Saddam Hussein".

Hashemi, who denies the charges, has since been holed up
in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq and Kurdish
officials have so far declined to hand him over to Baghdad.
"Iraqiya decided to return back to the parliament to
prepare the success of the national conference proposed by
President (Jalal) Talabani, Damluji said, referring to a
proposed conference of parties aimed at resolving the crisis.

The bloc`s MPs will participate in the vote on the
budget, and the vote on an amnesty for people involved in
violence, Damluji said.

They will also try to find a solution to the issue of
Hashemi, and oppose Maliki`s request to dismiss Mutlak, she

The White House said yesterday that US Vice President Joe
Biden had urged Iraqi leaders to resolve their differences
ahead of the possible national conference.

Biden called Allawi on Friday and Nujaifi on Saturday,
and discussed "the importance of resolving outstanding issues
through the political process".


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