Vote on Iraq-US security pact delayed
Intense dealmaking among Iraq's political factions on Wednesday delayed by one day a parliamentary vote on a security pact that would allow U.S. troops to stay in the country through 2011 under tight Iraqi supervision.
The Shiite-led government was struggling to meet the demands of political blocs, including a large group of Sunni lawmakers, seeking concessions in return for supporting the agreement. "There are complications, but we haven't lost hope yet," Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told al-Arabiya television.
Lawmakers arrived at the parliament building for the planned vote in a session scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. But Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani later said political leaders were working toward a settlement that will clear the way for a rescheduled vote Thursday morning. "We have just been told that the general climate is definitely moving toward a solution," al-Mashhadani said, according to the AP. The leaders are in agreement over all issues except one and we have been told that they need time to settle it."
On his part, Shiite Lawmaker Ridha Jawad Taqi said the government's Shiite and Kurdish blocs, which account for some 140 seats, or a slight majority in parliament, were willing to hold a national referendum on the deal in 2009. A referendum would give the Iraqi people a chance to evaluate "whether their interests have been achieved," said Alaa Makki, a member of parliament's biggest Sunni Arab bloc, the 44-seat Iraqi Accordance Front.