BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP -Iraqi politicians hunkered down to draw up a list of names for the country’s top political posts ahead of a parliament session to push forward the formation of a new government.
Representatives of the main political blocs agreed Friday to create a six-member committee to choose candidates for the posts of president, vice president and prime minister, said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish elder statesman.
“The (committee) members will study and discuss the names, make their choices and then present them to the heads of the blocs either tonight or tomorrow,” Othman said Saturday.
The aim is to have a list ready when the session starts Monday.
Leading members of the Shiite alliance, the dominant bloc in parliament, said Friday they would attend the session even if no agreement had been reached on all the names. But Othman said there were still some who felt the session should be postponed if a long-standing dispute over Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and other political posts requiring parliamentary approval were not resolved.
“Some people in the Shiite alliance are saying that we have Saturday and Sunday to reach this agreement and if not, there is no point in holding Monday’s session,” Othman said.
Al-Jaafari is the Shiite candidate for prime minister in the new government. Sunnis and Kurds are opposed to his nomination, which has created a deadlock in the process of forming the new national unity government.
In an interview Friday with a British television station, al-Jaafari repeated that he would not step down.
“I was the legitimate and democratic choice,” he told Britain’s Channel 4 News. “I wouldn’t have accepted the responsibility if I thought it was against the will of the people. I don’t see how I could repay my people’s faith in me by letting them down.”
Yet the lack of progress four months after parliamentary elections has sharpened sectarian divisions and frustrated Iraqis, especially as continued violence chips away at their patience and threatens to push the country into a large-scale civil war.
Othman said it was imperative to hold Monday’s session.
“Let us sit in the parliament and discuss the problem,” he said. “Any postponement on this issue will have a negative impact on the work of the parliament, the life of the people. And it would undermine the credibility of the politicians.”
Although the parliament session may produce no deals at all, it is seen as a sign that the parties are committed to forming a unity government. Boycotting it would make the Shiites appear obstructionist.