Sunday, March 05, 2006
AP: Pressure on Iraq's al-Jaafari Intensifies - March 5
By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer -- Sunday, Mar 5, 6:11 PM ET
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Sunni Arab and Kurdish politicians increased pressure Sunday on Shiite Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, left, to abandon his bid for a new term, while leaders of's Shiite majority struggled to overcome growing internal divisions.
Despite the squabbling, there were reports the new parliament would be called into session for the first time as early as the end of the week, starting the clock on a 60-day period during which it would have to elect a president and approve a prime minister and Cabinet.
The struggle to form a broad-based governing coalition acceptable to all the country's main groups has been further hampered by the surge in sectarian conflict.
Targeted sectarian violence killed at least five people Sunday. Three men died in a gunfight at a Sunni mosque in Baghdad and two relatives of a top Sunni cleric were slain in a drive-by shooting. Sunnis accused deaths squads allied to the interim government, allegations denied by the Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry.
U.N. envoy to Iraq Ashraf Jehangir Qazi expressed serious concern Sunday about human rights in the country, citing reports of excessive use of force, illegal detention centers and disappearances many of them the responsibility of insurgents.
The political turmoil has left a dangerous leadership vacuum as Iraq's armed forces, backed by the U.S. military, battle to contain sectarian violence that has pushed Iraq toward civil war.
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