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Iraq's president to summon new parliament March 12

Written by: Staff
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BAGHDAD, Mar 6 (Reuters) Iraq's President Jalal Talabani said today he will summon Iraq's new parliament to hold its first sitting on March 12.

The session will meet a constitutional timetable but sectarian bloodshed and efforts by Sunni, Kurdish and secular leaders to oust Shi'ite Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari have delayed the formation of a unity government to tackle the threat of civil war.

''I will call today for parliament to hold the first session on the 12th of the current month since it is the last day that the constitution allows,'' Talabani told reporters.

Nearly three months after a December election trumpeted by the United States as a major milestone in Iraq's democratic process, the country's divided political leaders are still fighting over the post of prime minister in the new government.

The impasse, complicated by bloodshed that has pitched Iraq towards civil war, has delayed the formation of an inclusive government of Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds.

Government officials and political sources said the row over the premiership meant only the job of parliament speaker was likely to be agreed when parliament sits.

As the biggest bloc in parliament, the ruling Shi'ite Alliance exercised its right last month to nominate the prime minister, handing the job to Jaafari after he won an internal ballot of Shi'ite legislators by a single vote.

But Iraq's other main parties are disenchanted with Jaafari's handling of security and economic problems over the past year as interim prime minister and want the Alliance to replace him as their price for joining the government.

REUTERS OM BS1526

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