Iraq pm rivals lack votes to oust him: president

Baghdad (ANTARA News/AFP) - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said rivals of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki lack the votes to oust him, stalling efforts to remove a leader who opponents accuse of being increasingly dictatorial.

Multiple political parties have sought to withdraw confidence from Maliki`s national unity government in recent weeks, in a worsening of a political crisis that began in December with critics of the premier accusing him of monopolising decision-making.

"Due to a lack of (support), the letter of his excellency the president of the republic, although its text was prepared, was not given to the parliament," a statement from Talabani`s office said late Saturday.

The statement said more than 160 lawmakers had originally supported the motion to unseat Maliki and, by extension, his government.

They included members of the secular Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, the main Kurdish faction, and the movement loyal to powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

All three of those parties are members of Maliki`s national unity government.

At least 163 votes are required to pass a motion of no confidence in the prime minister, according to Article 61 of Iraq`s constitution.

A no confidence motion can be put before parliament either by the president or by one-fifth of the 325 members of parliament.

Talabani`s statement added, however: "Later, 11 of the signed lawmakers informed the office of the presidency of the withdrawal of their signatures, while two others requested to suspend their signatures."

It did not provide details on who the lawmakers in question were, or what blocs they belonged to. (*)