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Iraqi Politician Calls On Maliki To Give Up Commander-In-Chief Duties

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

BAGHDAD -- A top politician from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's National Alliance says he should either step down as commander in chief or resign from his party, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Sabah al-Saadi, a senior member of the National Alliance, told RFE/RL on December 1 that Maliki himself had declared a policy that all security posts in the government should be held by nonpartisan officials.

Saadi, of the Al-Fadhila Islamic Party, said the generally accepted rule was to give security posts -- including the ministers of defense and interior as well as intelligence agency heads -- to people with no party affiliation.

He added that "this means Maliki should step down as commander in chief, [the position] that oversees all security structures. If he doesn't give up this post he should resign from his party."

But Alaa Talabani, a member of the Kurdish parliamentary bloc, told RFE/RL on December 1 that the call for Maliki's resignation was unfounded as the constitution designates the prime minister as commander in chief.

Al-Iraqiyah parliamentary bloc member Nahida al-Daeni told RFE/RL that Saadi's proposal was interesting and should not be easily dismissed. She said such questions concerning security posts going to people without party membership deserved serious consideration.

Meanwhile, National Alliance parliamentary bloc member Jawad al-Bazzun said that the Interior Ministry post will go to a Shi'a, while the defense portfolio will be given to a Sunni under an interparty agreement.

Al-Iraqiyah parliamentary bloc member Wahda al-Jumaili said on December 1 that either post would be acceptable to her group, but said her bloc was likely to get the defense post.

She said Al-Iraqiyah was also seeking to head either the Oil or Finance ministry, but had no interest in the Foreign Ministry.

The main factions are holding talks about the various ministry positions in hopes of reaching an agreement on all posts by December 15, the deadline Maliki has set for presenting a new cabinet to parliament.

Iraq held elections for the 325 parliamentary seats on March 7. Maliki's State of Law coalition -- part of the National Alliance -- garnered 89 seats and former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Sunni-backed Al-Iraqiyah won 91 seats.

Former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's National Iraqi Alliance won 70 seats in parliament.