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Maliki urges parliament to nix break

From the Associated Press

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki urged parliament Saturday to cancel or shorten its summer vacation to pass laws Washington considers crucial to Iraq’s stability and the debate on how long U.S. forces should remain.

Parliament was scheduled to adjourn for all of August. American officials, however, have been pressing Maliki and parliament since late last year to pass at least two laws viewed as a way to defuse the sectarian violence crippling Iraq: one on the distribution of oil wealth and another on allowing some former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party a role in government.

A statement by the Shiite prime minister’s office said he hoped parliament would cancel its vacation or limit it to two weeks to help “solve the pending issues on top of which [are] the vacant ministerial posts.”

The oil law, approved by Maliki’s Cabinet but not sent to parliament because of major opposition, calls for a fair distribution of oil revenue among Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis.

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Sunnis, who make up the bulk of the insurgency and have virtually no known oil reserves in their territories, oppose the current draft legislation. Kurds, who control large reserves in northern Iraq, also oppose the plan.

Shiites, meanwhile, opposed the measure on former Baath members because it would allow many who served in Hussein’s regime to return to their old jobs.


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