World Bulletin/News Desk
The Kurdish political bloc will no longer take part in Iraq's national government in protest against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's accusation that Kurds were harbouring Islamist insurgents in their capital, the foreign minister said on Friday.
"We have suspended our government business," said minister Hoshiyar Zebari, who is a Kurd.
The Kurds said on Thursday they were cancelling their participation in cabinet meetings. Zebari told Reuters that Kurdish ministers were now suspending their day-to-day involvement the foreign, trade, migration and health ministries and the deputy premiership.
Zebari said the Kurds will continue to attend the parliament, elected on April 30, which is seeking to form a new government in the face of a Sunni insurgency that has seized large sections of northern and western Iraq.
Maliki said on Wednesday the Kurds were allowing insurgents of the Islamic State (ISIL), an offshoot of al Qaeda, to base themselves in Arbil.
He urged Iraq's political blocs to form a government quickly. "There is a need for all the leaders to work together and recreate the new Iraq, to build a federal Iraq based on the principles in the constitution."
He said that unless Iraqi leaders rose to the challenge "the consequences are very dire: the complete fragmentation and failure (of Iraq)."
Meanwhile, Iraq's top cleric called on Friday for bitterly divided politicans to "close ranks" and told them to stop what he called their "radical discourse".
Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Kurdish regional president Massoud Barzani have been in a war of words this week with Barzani warning Maliki should not stand for a third term and Maliki accusing the Kurdish capital Arbil of becoming a den for terrorists that have seized large parts of the country.
"We have repeatedly called for the closing of ranks and for unity and to refrain from radical discourse," Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the majority sect's most influential cleric, said in a sermon delivered by an aide.
Sistani also urged fighters to respect the rights of all Iraqis, regardless of sect or politics, after an escalation in apparent sectarian killings in recent weeks.
"We would like to stress to all our armed forces and those volunteers who have joined them ... the necessity of strict and full commitment in taking care of the rights of all the people, and not to transgress against any innocent citizen no matter their sectarian or ethnic affiliation or whatever their political stance," Sistani said.Last Mod: 11 Temmuz 2014, 14:17