Iraqi parliament to convene on Sunday
Sunni and Kurdish leaders have demanded current Prime Minister Maliki step aside. (AFP/File)
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Iraq's parliament, which ended a rancorous meeting July 1 before scheduling another session in August, announced it will convene again Sunday.
The announcement Tuesday came after a session was cancelled to give the country's political factions time to settle disputes and reach agreements. The postponement to August angered international observers, including the United Nations, who believe the delay could change any balance of power between northern Kurds, southern Shiites and a growing western and central area seized by Sunni militants who have branded the territory the Islamic State.
The militants have arrived on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq's capital, and the Kurdish regional government is preparing a referendum on independence.
There is growing opposition to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is seeking a third term and whose political party holds the largest bloc of votes in parliament. Iraq's constitution requires the government to have a Shiite prime minister, a Kurdish president and a Sunni speaker of parliament. Sunni and Kurdish legislators have demanded Maliki step aside before the other two posts are filled.
"The delay exemplifies what ordinary Iraqis think of their government: weak, dysfunctional, self-serving and, above all, irrelevant," said Zaineb al-Assam, a senior analyst at IHS Country Risk, a Colorado-based analysis company.