Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki put all eight government ministers from the Sunni Muslim-backed al-Iraqiya alliance on leave, said his adviser, Ali al-Musawi.
The Cabinet decided yesterday to give their portfolios to other ministers until they end a boycott of its meetings, al- Musawi told reporters in Baghdad today. Al-Iraqiya lawmakers have been absent from Cabinet and parliamentary sessions since a warrant was issued two weeks ago for the arrest of Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, on terrorism charges.
The infighting comes amid concern that last month’s U.S. troop withdrawal will leave a security vacuum in Iraq, which seeks investment and expertise to develop the world’s fifth- largest crude oil reserves.
“The Iraqiya coalition will study this decision within the next couple of days and will take the decision to either return to the government, maintain the boycott or pull out completely from the government,” Abd al-Khodor al-Taher, a lawmaker from the bloc, said by phone from Baghdad. “Nobody can get rid of the other or govern this country without the presence of all parties.”
Al-Iraqiya, led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, has warned that if talks to resolve the dispute fail, it will join other politicians in efforts to dissolve parliament and hold early elections. The coalition also criticized al-Maliki for a Dec. 21 decision to put his deputy, Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni who had described him as a dictator in a recent television interview, on “extended leave.”
--Editors: Heather Langan, Karl Maier
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