Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called for a meeting of all political parties after a group of legislators asked for the dissolution of parliament and new elections amid escalating sectarian tensions. Talabani and parliament speaker Osama Nujaifi “agreed to hold a national conference for all political powers in order to resolve all pending issues,” according to a statement posted yesterday on the website of Talabani’s party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The statement set no date. Talabani will contact parties for final approval of the gathering, according to the statement.
Legislators from the al-Ahrar bloc loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr said political groups were not able to reach solutions and called for the new elections. The bloc has 39 seats in the 325-member parliament. Tensions between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-led allies and Sunni politicians have intensified since a warrant was issued last week for the arrest of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, on terrorism charges.
The infighting comes amid concern that the pullout of U.S. troops will leave a security vacuum in Iraq, which seeks investment and expertise to develop the world’s fifth-largest crude oil reserves.
A series of bombings on Dec. 23 in mainly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad killed at least 57 people and injured 176.
The U.S. would oppose dissolution of the Iraqi parliament, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said yesterday.