Iraq's Kurdish president called on the country's Shiite prime minister to step down, the spokesman for the president's party said Sunday, escalating a political split between the two factions that make up the government.
Sunni Arab leaders, meanwhile, were angered after the Shiite-dominated parliament passed a new ruling on the key Oct. 15 constitutional referendum making it more difficult for Sunnis to defeat the draft constitution that they oppose.
The political wrangling deepened the splits between Iraq's three main communities amid a constitutional process that was aimed at bringing them together to build a democratic nation. Kurds complained that Shiites were monopolizing the government, while Sunnis who have made up the backbone of the violent insurgency accused Shiites of stacking the deck against them in the political process. The Kurdish-Shiite split hits the core of the coalition that has made up the transitional government. President Jalal Talabani has made veiled threats to pull the Kurds out of the coalition if their demands are not met, a step that could bring the government's collapse.
Talabani has accused the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance, which holds the majority in parliament, of failing to fairly distribute government positions to Kurds, neglecting ministries run by Kurdish officials and refusing to move ahead on the resettlement of Kurds in the northern city of Kirkuk.
Jundiyani would not say whether the Kurds would withdraw from the government if the Shiite alliance does not back them in removing al-Jaafari. The prime minister can be removed by a vote of no-confidence, requiring a simple majority vote in parliament but the Shiites hold some 150 seats in the 275-member body, making it unlikely, ABC News reports.