Iraq Government Deadlocked at its second sitting

3/29/2005 11:52:07 PM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament erupted in acrimony at only its second sitting on Tuesday and journalists were thrown out after legislators berated leaders for failing to agree on a new government, two months after elections.

When parliamentarians were told that despite last-minute talks that delayed the session no agreement had been reached, even on the post of parliamentary speaker, several stood up to say leading politicians were letting down the Iraqi people.

"The Iraqi people who defied the security threats and voted -- what shall we tell them?" Hussein al-Sadr, a politician in the bloc led by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, asked the assembly before the news blackout.

As the meeting grew heated, the interim speaker ordered journalists to leave and Iraqi television abruptly switched to Arab music. Allawi walked out of the session shortly afterwards.

"You can say we are in a crisis," Barham Salih, a leading Kurdish politician, told reporters.

In Washington, President Bush said he expected a new Iraqi government to be formed soon and that Iraq would serve as an example of freedom in a "long-troubled part of the world."

"The trend is clear, freedom is on the march," Bush said in a speech at the White House.

"We expect a new government will be chosen soon and that the assembly will vote to confirm it. We look forward to working with the government that emerges from this process."

Amid concerns by minority Sunni Arabs that they will be left out of the process, Bush said he was confident the new government "will be inclusive, will respect human rights and will uphold fundamental freedoms for all Iraqis."