Iraqi vice president resigns in sign of infighting

May 31, 2011

BAGHDAD: One of Iraq’s deputy presidents has stepped down, a top Shiite leader said on Monday, a sign of divisions in the coalition government formed by Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation came as Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki fends off critics who say he has not delivered on power-sharing promises since forming a fragile multisectarian government in December after nine months of political deadlock.

Ammar Al-Hakim, the leader of the Iranian-backed Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI), said Abdul-Mahdi, a senior Shiite politician in ISCI, had presented his resignation but it had yet to be approved by President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd.

“We were supposed to present this resignation before, but the president was abroad, so once he came back the resignation was submitted to him,” Hakim said.

Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite, was one of three deputies appointed by Parliament this month to the government led by Al-Maliki.

Hakim said he hoped the resignation would prompt others to follow suit to reduce the size of the government. There have been divisions among the Shiite allies.

The vice president’s post is largely symbolic as it carries no real power but it was a part of the power sharing deal between Iraq’s political factions to form the government.

Abdul-Mahdi’s departure is unlikely to pressure the coalition, which still has the backing of most other Shiite blocs in the government, including the powerful Sadrist bloc with 39 seats in Parliament.

But it highlights increasing political wrangling in Iraq as US troops prepare to withdraw by the end of the year.

Opposition leaders are already seeking to pressure Al-Maliki, who faces a self-imposed early June deadline to show progress to Iraqis demanding much-needed basic services after years of war and violence.

More than eight years after the US-led invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraqis complain their governments have not done enough to resolve day-to-day problems such as supplying electricity and creating jobs.

The Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance, led by former premier Iyad Allawi, also criticizes Maliki for failing to form a national advisory body Allawi was meant to head and delaying the naming of key posts such as the defense and interior ministries.

Iraq was ravaged by sectarian violence unleashed by the invasion. Overall violence has dropped sharply from the dark days of sectarian slaughter in 2006-07, but attacks by insurgents and Shiite militia continue daily.

Source: Arab News.

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