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BAGHDAD: Iraq’s parliament yesterday approved a $119.1bn budget for 2013 after weeks of delay, but Kurdish representatives and most members of the main Sunni-backed bloc did not attend, MPs said.
Parliament has struggled to pass even key legislation such as the budget due to political disputes that have deadlocked the body.
“The vote was held today on all the articles of the budget,” Ali Shlah, an MP from Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s State of Law bloc said.
There were 168 out of 325 MPs present at the time of the vote, Shlah said, explaining that Kurdish MPs and about three-quarters of those from the secular, Sunni backed Iraqiya bloc did not attend.
MP Alaa Talabani said the Kurdish representatives stayed away because they consider the amount of money allocated in the budget to pay foreign oil companies operating in autonomous Kurdistan to be insufficient — a long-running dispute between the region and Baghdad.
And Iraqiya is at odds with Maliki over its accusations against him of authoritarianism and sectarianism.
Rafa Al Essawi, a leading Sunni and Iraqiya member who served as finance minister, announced his resignation at an anti-government protest earlier this month.
Shlah said the budget contains additions from the version approved by the cabinet last October, including salaries for anti-Al Qaeda Sahwa militiamen.