BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – Iraq’s speaker of parliament cut short a televised news conference on Wednesday after he engaged in a shouting match with a legislator who complained about his decision to suspend the session for lack of a quorum.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was expected to address lawmakers on extending emergency laws, but after only 76 legislators of the 275-seat assembly showed up, Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, called off the planned sitting.
Following the suspension, Sunni lawmaker Abdul Kareem al-Samarraie interrupted Mashhadani during a news conference to say enough Members of Parliament had arrived to hold a session.
Mashhadani, who has criticised fellow Sunnis for staying away from parliament when it takes up controversial issues, shot back: “You are part of a corrupt political agenda. You are dogs working against the interest of the Iraqi people.”
Mashhadani is from the Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in parliament.
Iraqiya state television cut the live broadcast.
The verbal clash highlighted the political infighting between and within blocs that has stalled government efforts in tackling critical issues such as security.
It is also likely to further undermine confidence among Iraqis that their politicians can overcome differences and restore stability to the war-torn nation.