Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fadhila Party withdrawing from Shi'ite coalition in parliament

BAGHDAD, March 7 (Reuters) - An Iraqi Shi'ite Islamist party said on Wednesday it was withdrawing from the powerful Shi'ite coalition that has dominated politics since 2005 elections, in a move Shi'ite officials said was a challenge to the government.

The Fadhila party, which holds 15 of parliament's 275 seats, said it was open to join other blocs as long as they weren't formed on a sectarian basis. The move may weaken the ruling United Iraqi Alliance, which has a near majority in parliament.

Officials from the Alliance, parliament's largest bloc, were annoyed and said they feared Fadhila's withdrawal was part of larger plans by other parties to form a rival bloc in parliament in order to overthrow Nuri al-Maliki's government. "This is a surprise for us," said a senior Alliance official. "It is definitely bad news for the Alliance. I fear it might fracture the Alliance."

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune

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