Iraq Sunni bloc boycotts parliament for second day
BAGHDAD, July 3 (Reuters) Iraq's main Sunni political bloc boycotted parliament for a second straight day today and said the walkout would last until a colleague was freed by gunmen who seized her in a Shi'ite area of Baghdad two days ago.
''Members of the Iraqi Accordance Front will not attend parliament's session today. We are suspending our participation until the release of Mashhadani,'' Sunni leader Adnan al-Dulaimi told Reuters.
Taiseer Najah al-Mashhadani and seven of her bodyguards were taken at gunpoint in northern Baghdad on Saturday after two cars full of gunmen blocked their way.
No one has claimed responsibility and Dulaimi did not blame any group. But Sunni leaders have accused militias of the Shi'ite majority now in power of targeting Sunnis.
Politicians from the Sunni Arab minority community, which dominated Iraqi politics until fellow Sunni Saddam Hussein was toppled in the U S-led invasion in 2003, have in the past staged walkouts as a form of protest.
The Front holds 44 of Parliament's 275 seats.
After staying away from polls during previous U S-sponsored votes, Sunnis took part in December's legislative elections for the first time since the invasion.
Their inclusion in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government of national unity raised hopes Sunni's participation in the political process would weaken the Sunni insurgency against the Shi'ite-led government.
REUTERS SHR HT1608