IRAQ: More fallout after parliament speaker's resignation
Iraq's volatile parliament managed to negotiate two key issues on Tuesday -- a security agreement allowing British troops and other non-U.S. foreign forces to stay after a United Nations mandate expires Dec. 31 and the resignation of its fiery speaker, Mahmoud Mashadani.
But by the time lawmakers resumed Wednesday, a handful of members from Mashadani's Sunni bloc, Iraqi Accordance Front, said they would withdraw from the group, which holds about 40 seats in the 275-member parliament.
Some members of the bloc blamed other Sunni lawmakers for playing a "conspiratorial role" in forcing Mashadani's resignation.
"The council tried during the past to reform the situation and make reunification, but we have failed to stop the Iraqi Islamic Party from continuing their suspicious acts," said Khalaf Alayan, head of the National Dialogue Council, which is part of the Iraqi Accordance Front.
A spokesman for the Accordance Front downplayed the defections. It remains "coherent, active and continuing to fulfill its political role," he said.
Mashadani, meanwhile, vowed to return to parliament in nine months, saying that the Iraqi people would choose the "real leader." The temperamental speaker has become known for his outbursts, which include slapping another lawmaker and cursing during parliament sessions.
In his parting news conference Wednesday, Mashadani praised his colleagues for building "a respectable Democratic parliament which surprised the whole world" and at the same time harshly criticized members who own five houses but live at a hotel inside the heavily guarded International Zone.
"How many hospitals and schools could be built in Iraq using this money?" Mashadani said. "There must be a genuine parliament reform."
-- Kimi Yoshino in Baghdad
Photo: Mahmoud Mashadani. Credit: AWAD AWAD/AFP/Getty Images