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Political chaos hits Baghdad

Dec. 19, 2011 at 4:36 PM

BAGHDAD, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The Iraqi government violated the principles of the state constitution when it barred the vice president from leaving the country, a political party claimed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for a no-confidence vote against his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlaq after he complained that the two-term Shiite prime minister was abusing his authority, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Three members of the security team for Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya slate, were arrested last week on terrorism charges. An arrest warrant was issued for Hashemi.

Iraqi lawmakers almost a year ago to the day approved 29 ministers, including Maliki, for a new government in Baghdad, ending a record-breaking political deadlock that followed inconclusive March 2010 elections.

The deal followed wrangling over key positions and a decision to allow lawmakers accused of having ties to Saddam Hussein back onto the political stage.

Mutlaq was originally barred from politics in a move led by Ahmed Chalabi, a former Pentagon favorite, for his ties to Saddam's Baath Party.

Maysoun al-Damlouji, a spokeswoman for the Iraqiya slate, in a statement, said "unconstitutional" measures were used to pressure Maliki's rivals.

Iraqiya, in protest of Maliki's political pressure, said it was postponing its participation in the Iraqi Parliament.

The political flare-up rekindled almost immediately after U.S. forces marked the end to their military engagement in Iraq.

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