Baghdad, August 3 (AKnews) – Iraq’s political leaders agreed in a meeting last night at Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s home, to put an end to an intense month of political disputes.
For the past few weeks, Iraq’s political process has ground to a standstill because of heated debates over the allocation of three key security ministries and the application of the power-sharing deal signed by the political blocs in December last year.
Though intensified of late, the frictions between the main players on Iraq’s political arena stretch back to the March 2010 legislative polls.
Following a nine-month political standoff over the right to form the next government, the blocs finally came together in Erbil to sign power-sharing deal initiated by Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani in December.
Under the Erbil agreement, Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani – a Kurd – were to retain their offices for a second term, and al-Iraqiya List leader Ayad Allawi, who secured a narrow majority of votes in the elections, would head a new executive body called the National Council for Strategic Policies (NCSP) as an attempt to maintain balance.
The al-Iraqiya List meanwhile, has repeatedly accused Maliki, whose list only overcame Allawi’s by controversially forming a super-bloc, the National Coalition (NC), with the Sadrist Current following the elections, of not abiding to the terms of the Erbil agreement.
With the NCSP not yet formed, eight months after the Erbil accord was signed, Iraqiya leaders have threatened to withdraw from the partnership government and accused Maliki of monopolizing power and failing to implement all terms of the deal.
Maliki hit back at Allawi in a media slanging match in May, accusing the al-Iraqiya leader of harboring “an understanding of partnership as sharing in the spoils and gains and escaping from the responsibilities”.
The issue of the candidates for the three security ministry posts meanwhile – left unassigned since the inauguration of the new government due to the squabbling leaders – was one of the main political contentions driving a wedge between the political blocs of late.
Maliki had several times rejected candidates put forward by al-Iraqiya – who in accordance with the Erbil agreement are entitled to hold the defense ministry – saying each time that the proposed deputies lacked the qualifications and/or experience to hold such a post.
The leaders on Tuesday however agreed on a formula to bring to an end the political rivalry.
Yonadim Yousef Kanna, a Christian leader who participated in the meetings told AKnews that the leaders have agreed to form two committees tasked with making sure the power balance is maintained and to draft a law for the NCSP over the next two weeks.
The leaders have also “agreed that the al-Iraqiya list put forward new candidates for the position of the minister of defense, and the National Coalition (NC) led by Maliki put forward candidates for the Interior and National Security ministries with a political consensus on the candidates for those positions,” Kanna continued.
As part of the talks, the Iraqi leaders also gave the government the green light to negotiate with Washington an extension of the mandate of the US forces in Iraq beyond the 2011 deadline for their withdrawal.
There is still disagreement between the leaders about the US forces remaining in Iraq, said Kanna, as the US seek to guarantee immunity from prosecution for its soldiers.
“…it was agreed that the matter be discussed in the Iraqi parliament,” Kanna said