Iraqi politician assassinated in Mosul drive-by shooting


AN IRAQI politician associated with the secular Iraqiya bloc was assassinated yesterday in the northern city of Mosul.

Bashar al-Graidy was killed in a drive-by shooting as the politicians wrangled over who is entitled to form a government.

The killing coincided with a call by the ministries of interior and defence to the electoral commission to disqualify two candidates who won seats in the March 7th parliamentary election. The first, from the Iraqiya list faces criminal charges, and the second, from the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), allegedly broke the law by standing for parliament while serving in the armed forces.

While the exclusion of these winners does not alter the result, the move shows that prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, who continues to hold the levers of power, is not ready to admit defeat. His State of Law bloc, with 89 seats, was edged out of first place by Iraqiya, headed by Iyad Allawi, with 91.

According to the 2005 constitution, Mr Allawi’s slender lead should have given him first crack at forming a government, but Mr Maliki mounted a blocking campaign which failed, leaving Iraqiya the largest grouping in the assembly. However, Mr Allawi has been unable to secure partners for a coalition commanding 163 seats.

To counter his efforts, Mr Maliki has formed a post-election union between his bloc and the INA, with 69-70 seats. This union of convenience is short of a majority but expects support from the Kurdish bloc. Under Iranian pressure, the INA is said to have lifted its objections to the nomination of Mr Maliki as prime minister but the two Shia blocs have not yet formally declared their merger or nominated a leader.

Mr Allawi, a secular Shia allied to Sunnis, and Mr Maliki, a sectarian Shia allied to fundamentalist Shias, have been left twisting in the wind.