BAGHDAD – Legislators joked and chatted, showing no sense of urgency about breaking a deadlock between Sunni and Shiite Muslims over national reconciliation as Iraq’s parliament held its final session Monday before a monthlong recess.
Adjourning until Sept. 4, despite complaints from some U.S. critics, the parliament failed to pass laws concerning oil investment and revenue-sharing among regions, the reintegration of former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime into government and on holding provincial elections.
Men in suits, Shiite clerics in white turbans and black robes, women in Western blouses and others shrouded in veils participated in the 275-seat national assembly’s final session before its recess.
Parliament had extended its session for a month in an unsuccessful attempt to pass the legislation that the U.S. Congress has designated as benchmarks for Iraq’s progress on healing its sectarian divide.
Four weeks later, Iraq’s politics appear as acrimonious as ever. The 44-seat Sunni political bloc Tawafuq was boycotting the government and threatening to pull its six members from the Cabinet permanently if its demands were not met by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the dissolution of militias and release of innocent detainees. Shiite lawmakers suspected the Sunnis simply wanted to bring down the government of al-Maliki, a Shiite.