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Iraq's parliament to sit tomorrow, Jaafari digs in

Written by: Staff
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BAGHDAD, Apr 19 (Reuters) Iraq's parliament will convene tomorrow with few signs that a deadlock over the formation of a national government has ended after Shi'ite Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari insisted he will not step down.

The parliamentary press office announcement came shortly after Jaafari's refusal to resign. Jaafari's nomination for a second term has held up efforts to form a unity government more than four months after elections.

''Stepping down is absolutely not in my consideration. I can't understand how resigning ... would benefit the national interest,'' Jaafari told a nationally televised news conference.

Efforts to form a unity government to avert a sectarian civil war have been stalled over Jaafari's refusal to step down.

Kurds, Sunni Arabs and even some Shi'ites have called on the Shi'ite Alliance bloc to drop Jaafari, who was nominated two months ago during an internal vote of Shi'ite legislators.

Critics say Jaafari, who became prime minister under the interim government before elections, has failed to bring stability or prosperity to Iraq. Washington is putting pressure on Iraqi leaders to bury their differences.

A session of parliament scheduled for Monday was postponed last week to give wrangling political blocs more time to agree on the premiership and other key government posts.

The United States, which hopes a government comprising Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds will foster stability, has blamed the political vacuum for fuelling violence.

REUTERS SI KP1902

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