Top Iraq politicians demand greater democracy

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (L), Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani (R) and Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr (C) meet in the northern Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil.

ARBIL, Iraq - Top Iraqi politicians, many of whom feel marginalised by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's style of governing, called on Saturday in Arbil for greater democracy in running the country.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Massud Barzani, the president of the autonomous Kurdistan region, Iyad Allawi, the head of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, and Sunni parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, held a meeting in Arbil, the capital of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.

Maliki, who was conspicuous by his absence, has been accused by various sides, including Barzani, Iraqiya and Sadr, of consolidating power and moving toward dictatorship in Iraq.

The Iraqi leaders called "to put in place mechanisms that can solve the instability, and for ways to enhance the democratic process and activate the democratic mechanisms in managing the country's affairs and preventing dangers that are targeting" democracy, a statement on the meeting said.

The leaders also discussed "the necessity of looking into solutions to end the (political) crisis, the continuation of which has become a danger to the higher national interests," said the statement which was read by Fuad Hussein, head of the office of the presidency in Kurdistan.

Solutions should be "in accordance with the Arbil agreement, what Moqtada al-Sadr said in his statement, and the constitutional bases that define decision-making and policies," it said, referring to a power-sharing deal on the formation of the current government, and points made by Sadr on Thursday.

The meeting, held in the office of Talabani's party, insisted on serving the people, providing essential services as soon as possible and to meet the urgent demands of the people, the statement added.

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