BAGHDAD, (Reuters) – Iraq’s main Sunni Arab bloc is suspending its participation in cabinet because of legal steps being taken against one of its ministers, the head of the bloc, Adnan al-Dulaimi, told Reuters on Friday.
The Sunni Accordance Front has six ministers in cabinet and the move is a big blow to Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at a time when he is trying to push through laws aimed at reconciling Iraq’s warring Shi’ite and Sunni Arab communities. “We have suspended our membership in the cabinet until the government puts an end to procedures being taken against Culture Minister Asaad Kamal Hashemi,” Dulaimi said by telephone from Amman where he is on a visit. “We have told our six ministers not to attend cabinet meetings until the government halts these legal steps.”
Iraq’s government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, earlier this week told Al-Arabiya television that an arrest warrant had been issued for Hashemi in relation to a murder investigation. However, there has been some confusion about the warrant. Police have not been able to confirm such a warrant has been issued. Nevertheless, publicity surrounding the matter has infuriated many Sunni politicians.
The legal case concerns the killing of the two sons of another Sunni politician in 2005. Dulaimi said Hashemi was innocent of any wrongdoing.