Iraqis fail to resolve standoff over PM

Sunni and Kurdish parties continue to oppose Shi'ite al-Jaafari, who refuses to step down.

iraq pm al-jaafari298 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
iraq pm al-jaafari298 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
hi'ite politicians failed Tuesday to resolve the deadlock over their candidate for prime minister, which is blocking formation of a new government. A bomb exploded on a minibus in a Shi'ite area, killing three people and underscoring Iraq's grave security crisis. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's own Dawa party and his key backer, radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, continued to stand behind him, despite opposition to his nomination by Sunni and Kurdish parties, said Bassem Sharif, who attended a meeting Tuesday of the seven Shi'ite factions. The Shi'ite politicians were to meet again Wednesday, Sharif said. Jaafari, who won the nomination for another term during a February vote by Shi'ite lawmakers, has refused to step aside on several occasions. Shi'ite leaders fear that forcing him out will fragment their alliance. "I respect opposing points of view, but they should remember the people who have elected them and made them the major parliament bloc," Jaafari said. "I hope the alliance remains faithful to the Iraqi people and their votes." Some Shi'ite officials suggested the alliance block Sunni and Kurdish candidates for key posts if they didn't accept Jaafari. Sunni and Kurdish politicians said divisions within the Shi'ite alliance were making it difficult for the bloc to resolve the Jaafari issue. These include bitter rivalry between Sadr's group and the biggest Shi'ite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Sadr and others in the alliance prefer to stick by Jaafari rather than risk having a candidate from the Supreme Council emerge. In Sadr City, a Shi'ite district in Bagdad, a bomb left on a minibus exploded Tuesday, killing three people and wounding four others, police said. In the mostly Shi'ite southern city of Basra, gunmen shot dead a Sunni professor as he was leaving his house in the morning.