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Iraq: Kurdistan Coalition Member Says Government Talks Delayed

Kurdistan Coalition List official Fu'ad Ma'sum told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) in a 25 February telephone interview that talks on forming the new government have been temporarily put on hold due to the tight security measures imposed after the 22 February bombing of Samarra's Golden Mosque, which ignited the latest increase in sectarian violence.

Fu'ad Ma'sum: Yesterday and today, [the talks] have actually been stopped, especially between the [Kurdistan] Coalition List and the other parties. A meeting was planned but the curfew measures have hindered it taking place.

RFI: Some say the negotiations have stopped because the [Sunni-led] Iraqi Accordance Front has withdrawn from them. To what extent is this true?

Ma'sum: The meetings and dialogues are not held just between the Iraqi Accordance Front and the others. There have been talks between us and the [Shi'ite-led] United Iraqi Alliance and these are not limited to the Iraqi Accordance Front.

They have been terminated now due to the recent developments and the serious situation. Because of that, when the president of the republic, [Jalal Talabani,] was preparing a message to deliver two days ago [on behalf of political parties as well], all of the various parties agreed among themselves that he would do so at a [joint] press conference. So the work has been going on and there is constant telephone contact between the various parties, trying to get out of the stagnation in forming a cabinet.

The situation may remain like this for a day or two but the parties must definitely meet after that to put forward their proposals. Those will be accepted by whoever accepts them, and if someone rejects them, it will be only his responsibility. We will not insist on being a part of the government. If we see that we cannot agree on the style and the form of the government, we will not participate in it. Then, we would not bear any responsibility for the failure of that government. But if it is successful, that will be what we want.

RFI: Are there any legal and constitutional violations in the fact that the new parliament has not convened yet and a new government has not been formed?

Ma'sum: No. In fact, as far as parliament is concerned, it was supposed to convene tomorrow, that is on Sunday [26 February], because there is the 15-day deadline [after the announcement of election results]. That may be extended an additional 15 days. So parliament is obliged to convene within the coming 16 days [by 13 March]. Parliament has not convened for now because there was an ongoing search for a solution to the pressing problems. The intent was that parliament does not become a scene of conflicts, agitations, and mutual attacks. But if we do not reach any solution, parliament will have to convene. All the problems will move in there, and [its members] will have to study them in full detail.

(translated by Petr Kubalek)

Iraqi Legislative Elections 2005

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RFE/RL's coverage, background, and analysis of Iraq's December 15, 2005, legislative elections.