Archive for Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Iraqi parliament to convene today without all key leaders in place

March 16, 2005


— Iraq puts its fragile democracy to the test today, convening its first freely elected National Assembly in recent history after last-minute bargaining over Sunni Arab candidates to head the parliament.

Shiite Muslim officials said they failed to reach final agreement in talks with the Kurds -- who are mostly Sunni Muslim but secular -- and the Sunni Arabs. But those failures were not enough to prevent the 275-member National Assembly from preparing to meet today for the first time since the Jan. 30 elections.

"It will be a historic event because the Iraqi people will witness an elected parliament for the first time in their lives," said Ali al-Dabagh, a member of the Shiite clergy-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, which won the most seats in the elections.

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