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New Political Roadblock Frustrates Iraqi Public

Iraqi leaders at the mid-March inaugural -- and most recent -- session of parliament (epa) April 17, 2006 -- Officials put off a planned second plenary session of the new Iraqi parliament on April 17 amid continuing deadlock over who should be appointed prime minister, with politicians saying they need more time to resolve their differences.

There are signs that the Iraqi public is increasingly frustrated over delays in forming a national government, particularly as insurgent violence continues to target civilians.

The delayed session of parliament, whose postponement was announced on April 16, would have been its second since the country's landmark December elections.

Political Divisions

Four months after the elections for the first permanent post-Saddam Hussein government, Iraqi political parties remain deeply divided.

Iraqi Sunni Arab and Kurdish groups have rejected the choice for prime minister, outgoing premier Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, of the country's Shi'ite majority. The Shi'a are reported to have informally proposed another candidate, but they are in turn opposing Sunni candidates for other posts.

The Sunnis and Kurds accuse al-Ja'fari of failing to stop the sectarian violence that has left hundreds dead since the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in Al-Samarra in February.

Public Anger

Iraqi citizens are voicing distress over the situation and frustration with their elected politicians.

Issam Abd al-Razzaq, speaking to Reuters in Baghdad on April 17, said the decision to cancel the parliamentary session was unjust.

"The decision [to delay] is unjust for any honest Iraqi," he said. "We have suffered a lot since the elections and, until now, [politicians] have done nothing for us while, on the contrary, we feel really let down, having cast our votes and elected those who will represent us. While they delay and delay, the situation in the country is getting worse."

Muhammad Kadhim Abbas, another resident of the capital, noted that four months have passed since voters elected a parliament but there are no results on the horizon.

"It is damaging to the credibility of those responsible for the political process in the country," Abbas said. "The country needs a government, a serious government, which will end the people's suffering and injustice. It does not need to be postponed. Enough is enough. Four months or more have already passed since people went to vote in very difficult and critical circumstances. Why the delay? We want the parliament to convene and approve a constitutional government to end injustice and relieve the people's sufferings."

More Violence

Meanwhile, violence continued in the country today. Fighting broke out in the Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in northern Baghdad, where police said at least one civilian was killed.

In central Baghdad, a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army patrol, killing one civilian and wounding three others. An eyewitness, Hussein Khalil, told Reuters that the death of a civilian bystander was an indirect result of government inefficiency.

"What did that Muslim do to be killed like this? Where is the government?" Khalil asked. "Why are those [government officials] here? They are here for the sake of money and nothing else. What did that poor man do to be killed like this? No one has done his job in a proper way. They [government officials] are here for the sake of money, and not for the sake of Iraq."

On April 16, police said that gunmen in police uniforms stormed an Iraqi investment company in Baghdad and kidnapped 12 Iraqi men. Their whereabouts remain unclear.

(compiled from agency reports)

Iraqi Legislative Elections 2005

Iraqi Legislative Elections 2005

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

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