POLITICS

Iraqi Infighting Stalls 2008 Budget In Parliment

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Iraqi lawmakers have refused to pass the 2008 budget because of rows over allocations, including how much money to give the autonomous Kurdistan region, in the latest sign of the country's deep political divisions.

Parliamentary speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani called the heads of Iraq's main political blocs to a meeting in his office late on Monday after lawmakers failed to sign off on the budget in recent days, his office said on Tuesday.

Failure to pass the $48 billion budget could hold up vital spending at a time when Washington is urging the government to jumpstart the economy to take advantage of falls in violence.

"The speaker urged all members and heads of blocs who have reservations on the 2008 budget ... to hurry and approve the budget in order to provide for the fundamental needs of the Iraqi people," Mashhadani's office said in a statement.

Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, urged parliament to pass the budget when it next sits on Thursday.

U.S. officials have praised the 2008 budget as well as this month's passage of a law allowing former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to rejoin the government and military as evidence of political progress.

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