July 19, 2007 / 8:34 AM / 12 years ago

Iraq Sunni bloc says ending parliament boycott

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq’s main Sunni Arab political bloc will end its boycott of the country’s Shi’ite-dominated parliament, officials said on Thursday.

The return of the Accordance Front is likely to be a boost for Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at a time when he is under mounting U.S. pressure to push through key laws aimed at reconciling majority Shi’ites and minority Sunni Arabs.

The Accordance Front began the boycott in June to protest the ousting of one of its senior members, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, as parliament speaker.

A statement from the office of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a leading member of the Front, said Mashhadani had been reappointed speaker.

It was not immediately clear if the bloc was also ending a similar boycott of cabinet meetings.

A parliament official said members of the Front were currently meeting with the acting speaker of parliament, who is a Shi’ite.

“We have decided to end the boycotting of parliament sessions,” the statement from Hashemi’s office said.

Washington has been urging Iraq for months to pass major laws aimed at drawing Sunni Arabs more firmly into the political process. Only one of the drafts has reached parliament.

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