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Iraq president says parliament to decide PM fate-paper

Written by: Staff

RIYADH, Apr 5 (Reuters) Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's fate will be decided in parliament if he does not voluntarily step down, President Jalal Talabani said in remarks published today.

''Consultations are taking place and quickly. We hope they will not take any longer and if the (Shi'ite) Alliance insists on its stance, to nominate Ibrahim Jaafari, then we will resort to parliament,'' Saudi Arabia's Al Madina newspaper quoted Talabani as saying.

Jaafari has come under growing pressure from Iraqi and Western officials to step down to break an impasse over forming a government, four months after parliamentary elections.

Jaafari's appointment has yet to be confirmed.

The Alliance, as the biggest bloc in parliament, has the right to nominate the prime minister, but if the presidency council, which consists of Talabani and his two vice presidents, fails to agree on the candidate, parliament must elect another by a two thirds majority.

Jaafari's critics and some allies have called for him to step aside, saying the Shi'ite leader cannot bring the needed unity and security. The United States and Britain say Iraq's failure to appoint a new government four months after elections is undermining security.

Talks over forming a new government after parliamentary elections in December have stalled on the uncertainty over Jaafari's future.

Jaafari, who won nomination to keep the top job in a vote in February, has previously condemned U.S. ''interference'' in Iraq's REUTERS CH KP1600

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