Iraq’s faction leaders launch reconciliation bid

March 18th, 2008 - 7:56 pm ICT by admin  

Baghdad, March 18 (DPA) Iraq’s political, religious and tribal leaders met Tuesday to iron out their differences and re-launch faltering reconciliation efforts ahead of the fifth anniversary of the war. The two-day conference is attended by 500 Iraqi figures representing the country’s political, sectarian and ethnic groups.

The aim of the conference is to strengthen the role of various groups and communities in the political process, which US officials and many Iraqis say has not achieved sufficient progress.

The Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said at the opening of the conference that reconciliation was based on a long-term strategy to rebuild state institutions on a sound basis.

Efforts of reconciliation have made significant progress, namely the establishment of tribal councils backing the government’s fight against insurgency, al-Maliki said.

The premier said progress has been also made in integrating former army personnel into security bodies and wooing insurgents into renouncing violence and joining the political process.

Al-Maliki’s optimism is not shared by the US, the UN and many Iraqis who are critical of the slow pace of reconciliation efforts.

Al-Maliki’s critics point to a number of stalled legislation aiming at integrating Iraq’s sects, especially Sunni Arabs, who felt disadvantaged after the collapse of the former regime.

Parliament has passed two key laws - a general amnesty legislation, and the justice and accountability law - both of which aim at integrating members of the former Baath Party and insurgents into the political process.

But political powers, such as the secular Iraqi List and the Sunni Front of National Accord, have been critical of the laws, saying they were insufficient and pandering to narrow interests of Shia religious blocs.

Factional feuds in parliament have stalled key elements in the reconciliation package.

The withdrawal of members of the Front of National Accord from cabinet and faltering efforts to bring them back are further symptoms of Iraq’s sectarian-dominated politics.

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