Kurds won't arrest Iraqi vice president

Jan. 10, 2012 at 12:15 PM
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ERBIL, Iraq, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The semiautonomous Kurdish government in Iraq isn't obliged to carry out an arrest warrant for the Iraqi vice president, a deputy interior minister said.

The central government in Baghdad this week called on the Kurdistan Regional Government to arrest Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on charges he oversaw a death squad.

Hashemi relocated from Baghdad to the Kurdish capital Erbil after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for his arrest last month.

Fayeq Tawfiq, the deputy interior minister in the Kurdish government, said Erbil is "not bound" by the arrest warrants issued by the central government, Bloomberg News reports.

Political tensions in Iraq escalated almost as soon as U.S. forces left the country for good last month. Some members of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya slate are boycotting the country's legislative assembly while anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr called for new elections.

Maliki's critics complain he's running the country like a dictator. Martin Kobler, the U.N. special envoy to Iraq, called on political leaders in Iraq to settle their differences through amicable negotiations.

Elites in the country, he said, are called on to "find common ground in the spirit of partnership based on the Iraqi constitution, which recognizes the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers," the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq reported.

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