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Iraq’s Maliki May Call for Early Elections If Dialogue Fails

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will call for early elections if dialogue fails to resolve a political crisis, his media adviser Ali al-Moussawi said.

Moussawi was clarifying a statement on Maliki’s website that said “the prime minister has found himself forced to call for early elections” in accordance with the constitution.

“He wanted to say that if you don’t accept dialogue, then we will go to early election because problems won’t be resolved this way,” Moussawi said in a telephone interview in Baghdad today. “He has said this in previous statements.”

Violence and political clashes in Iraq have increased since the end of December when the U.S. pulled out its remaining troops from the country. The Sunni Muslim-backed al-Iraqiya coalition has boycotted parliament and Cabinet sessions for weeks to press demands for more power-sharing with the Shiite Muslim prime minister’s alliance.

Prominent political blocs have started a procedure to question Maliki in parliament on charges of abuse of power, and the prime minister’s coalition responded by threatening to hold a vote of no-confidence in Parliament Speaker Usama al-Nujaifi, who is a member of the al-Iraqiya bloc. A planned national meeting to resolve political disputes was postponed indefinitely, al-Nujaifi said on April 4.

Iraq is seeking investment and expertise to develop the world’s fifth-largest crude oil reserves. The central government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan authority are also locked in a dispute over oil revenue that prompted the Kurds to halt shipments of their crude through the country’s main export pipeline on April 1. The two sides have also traded accusations about suspected crude oil smuggling to neighboring Iran.

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