"I'm under house arrest": Iraq Sunni Arab leader

Other News Materials 1 December 2007 17:38 (UTC +04:00)

( Reuters ) - Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political bloc walked out of parliament on Saturday and its leader said he had been placed under house arrest after his son and dozens of members of his entourage were detained.

Saleem al-Jubouri, spokesman for the Accordance Front, said the group would not return to parliament until its leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, was allowed to leave his home.

"We walked out today and announced we will not attend the session today or tomorrow unless the pressure is lifted off Dr Dulaimi and he is allowed to move wherever he likes," Jubouri told Reuters at parliament in Baghdad's heavily fortified "Green Zone" government and diplomatic compound.

The standoff could worsen sectarian tension between the minority Sunni Arab community and the Shi'ite-led government at a time when violence in Iraq has been falling but progress toward political reconciliation is still slow.

U.S. forces and the Iraqi government have said they asked Dulaimi to stay at home for his own safety after Iraqi troops arrested dozens of his bodyguards and aides under suspicion of links to a car bomb found near his office.

Dulaimi said he had tried to leave but was told by troops guarding his house that they were ordered to keep him confined.

"Today I got dressed and went out and asked the checkpoint (if I could leave). They said: 'We have orders that you are not allowed to leave the house'. This means I am now under house arrest," Dulaimi told Reuters by telephone.

"This is against the law, the constitution, decency, reconciliation and calm. This should not have happened."

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh denied Dulaimi was under house arrest. "There are no orders to place Dr. Adnan al-Dulaimi under house arrest. He has parliamentary immunity and the government respects the immunity," Dabbagh told Reuters.

"He is in custody for his own protection and because there are investigations going on."