Iraqi leader claims Wikileaks release 'politically motivated'
IRAQ'S prime minister has claimed the Wikileaks release of documents showing widespread abuse in his jails is "politically motivated".
Nouri al-Maliki seemed on course to form a new coalition government earlier this month, despite only coming second in a general election in March.
But he has been severely embarrassed by accusations that he has presided over a regime of torture and murder.
The Wikileaks documents also highlighted a campaign of assassination and bombing conducted at the peak of Iraq's civil conflict by his prospective coalition partners, the militant Sadrist group, with Iranian backing.
"There are some political interests behind the media campaign who are trying to use the documents against national leaders, especially the prime minister," a statement from Mr Maliki's office said.
It said there was a "question mark" over the timing of the release of documents, though it did not make clear the nature of the conspiracy it was suggesting.
The allegations outlined go back long before Mr Maliki took office in 2006. But part of the success he has claimed in bringing down the level of violence since he came to power has rested on his "strongman" image.
He has fought militias, including the Sadrists to whom he is now allied, and formed special security units to target suspected insurgents.
The opposition Iraqiya movement said the report showed the danger of giving Mr Maliki too much power.
"Mr Maliki wants to have all powers in his hands," spokes-man Maysoon al-Damluji said.
"Putting all the security powers in the hands of one person who is the general commander of the armed forces has led to these abuses."
Iraqiya won the most seats in the March election, 91 to 89 for Mr Maliki's State of Law party, but has had difficulty finding enough coalition partners to mount a viable challenge. Party followers sought to take advantage of the leaks by calling for a full inquiry.
"The Iraqi government bears responsibility for investigating the correctness of the reports," said Safia al-Suhail, adding that scandals such as the Abu Ghraib prison abuse happened when Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi was prime minister.
Iraq has now broken the record for the longest period after an election without a government. The country's supreme court ruled yesterday that the parliament has breached the constitution by failing to sit since June.
Fouad Masoum, the temporary speaker, said he would call a new session within days and hoped the ruling would catalyse the formation of a government. (© Daily Telegraph, London)