BAGHDAD, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- No reconciliation meetings can take place so long as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki remains in power, a spokesman for the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc said.
Political conflict flared up in Iraq after U.S. military forces left the country in December according to the terms of a 2008 Status of Forces Agreement. The Shiite prime minister wants the country's vice president arrested on charges of overseeing a death squad. Some of Maliki's political opponents in the Sunni-backed Iraqiya slate have boycotted the country's legislative assembly.
Haidar al-Mulla, a spokesman for Iraqiya, told London's pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that "no national reconciliation meeting can take place in Iraq whilst Nouri al-Maliki is prime minister."
During the last round of elections in 2010, Iraqiya took the majority of the votes but was unable to form the political majority needed to unseat Maliki.
Maliki's critics said he is governing the country like a dictator. Mulla, in his phone conversation with the British news service, made several veiled references comparing Maliki to the late dictator Saddam Hussein.
Mulla added that Maliki was likely afraid that a broad-based political dialogue would force him out of office.
"Maliki does not want any conference that could potentially remove him from office to take place," he said.