BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Four of the most senior political leaders in Iraq’s fragile coalition have threatened to bring a vote of no confidence in the government unless “autocratic decision-making” stops, a letter published in a state newspaper on Saturday said.
Iraq’s Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurd coalition began to creak in December, after U.S. troops left, when the government tried to remove Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and issued an arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.
Those incidents intensified long-running tensions between the Sunni and Shi’ite blocs that have hampered the government’s ability to pass key legislation.
The Baghdad government and the autonomous Kurdish region are also engaged in a simmering row over oil exports.
The four senior lawmakers - Osama al-Nujaifi, Masoud Barzani, Iyad Allawi and Moqtada al-Sadr - sent the letter to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s bloc on Thursday, political sources told Reuters.
Some of Maliki’s opponents, including Barzani and Sadr, have accused him of becoming a dictator and several of his critics say he deliberately sidelines Sunnis and Kurds.
The letter outlines eight demands to be met by May 13 to ensure the four leaders’ support for Maliki’s administration.
“In case of a refusal to comply with the principles and frameworks of this agreement, practical steps will be taken, within a period of time not exceeding 15 days, to act upon a vote of no confidence against the government,” the letter says.
The letter is dated April 28, the last day of a three-day mini-summit held by the leaders during which they said they tried to find a solution to the political impasse.
Maliki did not attend the meeting, which was held in the Kurdish capital Arbil.
The letter called on the government to stop interfering with the security forces and with the work of parliament and contained a paragraph criticizing autocratic decision-making.
“Putting an end to any kind of one-man decision-making in the government pyramid and a tendency towards autocracy,” the sixth demand reads.
The letter also demanded that a two-term limit for the post of prime minister be retroactively introduced. Maliki is serving his second four-year term as prime minister.
“(This is necessary) in order to ensure a peaceful transfer of power and to establish the foundations and principles of democracy and in order not to allow a climate of dictatorship,” it said.
The sole Shi’ite signatory of the letter, Sadr, has a history of acrimonious relations with Maliki.
Maliki’s bloc met on Thursday and pledged to hold a meeting of all of the coalition’s political blocs within a week to hammer out a solution to the crisis, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, chairman of the coalition, said in a statement on his website.
Writing by Barry Malone; Editing by Louise Ireland
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