BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqis sweltering in blistering summer heat with little state-supplied power on Tuesday criticized yet another delay in forming a new government after the election in March.
President Jalal Talabani asked the supreme judicial council to rule on whether he was constitutionally still president after parliament missed a deadline for appointing a new head of state, and postponed a parliamentary session due on Tuesday.
The court said he was still president.
But that did not still a public outcry against what many Iraqis see as politicians putting themselves before the country as it emerges from war and seeks peace and prosperity on the back of multibillion-dollar oilfield development deals.
“We wish the government to be formed tomorrow. We want to live. We want electricity,” said street cleaner Asim Malik, 24.
“They (the politicians) only provided 24 hours a day of electricity during the election. Now that they have what they want, they have abandoned us.”
Many Iraqis had hoped the March 7 parliamentary election would mark a departure from the years of sectarian warfare and insurgency unleashed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Instead it has led to more than four months of political paralysis in the absence of an outright winner, and stoked tension as U.S. troops prepared to end combat operations on August 31 before a full withdrawal next year.
Talks to form a coalition government have gone nowhere because of discord between the main Shi’ite factions about incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s desire for a second term.
The actual vote leader, a Sunni-backed secular coalition headed by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, has so far been unable to entice other blocs into its camp.
INSURGENTS KILL HUNDREDS
Sunni Islamist insurgents continue to carry out bombings and assassinations that kill hundreds each month and little progress has been made to improve the decrepit state of Iraq’s most basic infrastructure, such as the power grid.
Although lawmakers said on Monday that the agreement to postpone the parliamentary session by two weeks was unanimous, a major Shi’ite bloc said on Tuesday it disagreed with it.
“Based on the constitution and the internal law of the parliament, the Iraqi National Alliance calls for an urgent parliamentary session in order to define the position of the current political crisis,” the alliance’s statement said.
The Iraqi National Alliance (INA) has merged in parliament with Maliki’s State of Law.
Together they are just four seats short of a working majority in the 325-seat Council of Representatives, but opposition within the INA to Maliki being reappointed has become a main hurdle to agreement on forming a government.
Some politicians said the delay in holding the parliamentary session and picking a new president violated the constitution.
“If the delay continues, I think the people at the end will raise their voice and topple the leaders who violated the constitution,” said Jawad al-Hasnawi, a lawmaker from the bloc of fiery anti-U.S. Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Many Iraqis said they were growing impatient with it all.
“Is it possible that four months after the election, the politicians still cannot agree on their share of the cake?” said Abu Muhanned, 54, a lawyer.
Unemployed Baghdad resident Sejad Ghazi said even if the politicians overcame their differences, it might not help.
“They keep delaying the distribution of (cabinet) chairs while we remain without water, electricity and services,” said Ghazi.
“The council of representatives should be named the council of the disabled because they are unable to do anything for us. We are the richest country in the world and we have nothing.”
Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Waleed Ibrahim; editing by Jim Loney and Tim Pearce
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