Iraqi vice president "worried" by coalition talks in Iran
Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi is "worried" by talks in Iran on forming a new Iraqi government, he told a leading regional daily published Tuesday, DPA reported.
Intense political jockeying has followed last week's announcement that former prime minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqi List had narrowly won March 7 parliamentary elections.
Aides to incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose State of Law bloc placed a close second in the polls, on Monday met with Shiite preacher Moqtada al-Sadr in the Iranian city of Qom to discuss forming a coalition government.
"Iraqis are very worried about the meetings (in Iran) because they signal the redrawing of the political map along sectarian lines," al- Hashimi, a Sunni Muslim who campaigned with Allawi's list, told the regional daily al-Sharq al-Awsat.
"Neighbouring countries' interference in (Iraq's) internal matters is clear," al-Hashimi charged.
Al-Maliki has vowed to challenge the election results in court, saying he has evidence of fraud.
His bloc also hopes to convince members of rival coalitions to switch sides before parliament reconvenes in June, following a Federal Court ruling that the coalition with the most seats in June will have the right to form a government.
"The Federal Court's opinion is not binding on anybody, because it is not the competent authority," al-Hashimi told al-Sharq al-Awsat, which is based in London and funded by the Saudis.
Al-Sadr's followers ran with the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), a coalition of Shiite religious parties that came a close second to al- Maliki's bloc in many predominantly Shiite provinces in southern Iraq.
Al-Maliki's aides have said they hope to assemble a government including INA members and the Kurdistan Alliance, which easily won the polls in northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
The INA's 70 seats in the new parliament could make it an indispensable part of any ruling coalition.
Sadrist politicians, who won 40 of the INA's seats, have expressed reservations about a government led by Allawi, who presided over a joint US-Iraqi military campaign against them when he was prime minister in 2004.