BAGHDAD: Iraqi politicians on Monday extended an inaugural parliamentary session by two weeks to give rival blocs more time to form a government, more than four months after an inconclusive poll.
"The leaders of the political parties met today but they did not find a solution so they decided to extend the session by two weeks," a parliamentary official said, alluding to a July 14 deadline for parliament to reconvene.
The parliament, the second democratically elected chamber since the fall of Dictator Saddam Hussein, met briefly for the first time on June 14 after the March 7 general election, before going into recess.
Under the conflict-wracked country’s new constitution, there was a one-month deadline from that date for members to reconvene.
However, a decision on when parliament meets has been overshadowed by a lack of progress on forming a new government, including who becomes Iraq’s new prime minister.
Iyad Allawi, a Shia former premier, insists that as the election’s narrow victor he should become prime minister, especially as his broadly secular Iraqiya coalition had strong backing in Sunni-dominated provinces.
He has warned that failure to have Sunni Arab voters properly represented in power could reignite the sectarian violence which saw tens of thousands killed in the first years after Saddam’s ouster.
Allawi narrowly pushed serving Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s Shia-led State of Law alliance into second place in the election, but the incumbent is doggedly fighting to stay on and serve a second term.
Jamal Al-Battkh, a prominent member of Allawi’s Iraqiya list, said the need for a two-week extension reflected the lack of political progress. "Four months have passed and we are moving in circles," he said.
"Now we extend for weeks and all we speak about is the constitution, but we are not implementing the constitution," he added, referring to how the 30-day deadline for parliament to reconvene had been sidestepped.