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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Iraq MPs regroup to break impasse
Podium being prepared for Iraqi parliament
Tuesday's session ended in disagreement
Iraqi lawmakers have regrouped in a further effort to break the deadlock over the appointment of a president and a speaker of parliament.

Deputies have been in meetings in their respective political groupings to find a solution while behind-the-scenes negotiations continue.

The second session of the assembly, held on Tuesday, ended in chaos with arguing MPs failing to nominate anyone. Correspondents say the deadlock could delay the writing of a constitution.

The new basic law is due to be drafted by 15 August.

Ministers insisted that while the deadline was tight, a draft constitution could be ready on time.

Adnan al-Janabi, a minister of state close to interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, said Iraq's Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), the so-called "interim constitution", would serve as a basis for the draft constitution.

"We are not going to be late," he told Reuters news agency. "It is not a secret that the TAL is a good draft for the constitution, so we will not be starting from scratch.

"The TAL was agreed by all parties. It requires some amending, but it ... will save us time," he said.

Sunday deadline

But work on the constitution cannot begin until a new government is formed.

Officials from the Shia Muslim majority say the delay is due to efforts to find a Sunni Muslim candidate for speaker acceptable to all parties.

Commentators say the Shia and Kurds will not support Mr Janabi, the Sunni-nominated candidate, because of his brother's ties to the former Saddam Hussein regime.

Interim President Ghazi Yawer, a Sunni, was offered the position but declined, hoping to get one of two vice-presidential posts.

The Sunnis were given until Sunday to come up with a new candidate for speaker.

"We saw that things were confused ... so we gave [the Sunnis] a last chance," said Hussein al-Sadr, a Shia cleric and member of Mr Allawi's interim coalition.

"We expect the Sunni Arab brothers to nominate their candidate. Otherwise, we will vote on a candidate on Sunday."

Tough negotiations over top posts in key ministries also continue, with Kurds and Shia vying for control of the oil ministry.

Correspondents say there is growing frustration over the delays in forming a government among Iraqis who defied the insurgents to go to the polls in January.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, a car bomb exploded near a US convoy in western Baghdad's Abu Ghraib neighbourhood, killing one person and injuring at least six others, Iraqi police say.

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