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Hopes for announcement on Iraq parliament dashed

By Staff
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BAGHDAD, Apr 6 (Reuters) A press conference at which officials were expected to announce the date of the next session of Iraq's parliament was cancelled today, organisers said, dealing another blow to efforts to form a government.

No official reason was stated but the cancellation appeared to be another setback in efforts to form a new government four months after parliamentary elections.

Acting parliament speaker Adnan Pachachi, who was to have made an announcement at the press conference, said discussions on holding the session which were supposed to conclude this morning are continuing.

Pachachi told Reuters he had expected parliament to meet at the end of next week.

The deadlock has been focused on Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who is resisting intense pressure from both rivals and senior members of his dominant Shi'ite Alliance.

The Alliance has engaged in a series of talks aimed at ending the crisis, which has left a political vacuum and prompted the United States and Britain to urge feuding Iraqi leaders to bury their differences.

Technically the ''first'' session was not adjourned earlier this month, a legal ploy that gives parliament an open-ended timetable to elect a speaker, which the constitution says should happen at the first session.

Once the speaker is chosen, the new constitution sets a 30-day timetable for forming a government, though there is dispute over whether this should apply to the first parliament.

The struggle to choose a parliament speaker, prime minister and ministers has disappointed Iraqis, who hoped that postwar Iraq's first full-term government would start tackling a Sunni Arab insurgency and rising sectarian violence.

REUTERS OM KP1559

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