Two lawmakers withdraw from the block headed by former premier Allawi

Two prominent lawmakers announced Wednesday they were leaving the parliamentary bloc led by Iraq's first post-Saddam Hussein prime minister, saying their move was in protest of the "dictatorship" of Ayad Allawi and his contacts with the former president's supporters in the insurgency.
Hajim al-Hasani and Safiya Al-Suhail told a news conference that Allawi, a secular Shiite, has recently been making decisions without first consulting with members of his Iraqi List block, which has 44 of parliament's 275 seats.
"The decision-making mechanism in the bloc lacks democracy. We have not been consulted. They were coming from Amman" where Allawi spends much of his time, said al-Suhail, a Shiite whose father was killed in 1994 by suspected Saddam agents.
"They are decisions by remote control," she said.
Allawi, who served as prime minister for nearly a year starting in June 2004, has recently said he held talks with members of Saddam's Baath party loyal to the late dictator's deputy Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.
Al-Douri, who has been a fugitive since Saddam's regime was toppled in April 2003, is known to be active in the Sunni Arab insurgency. His supporters are suspected of having forged links with al-Qaida militants responsible for some of the deadliest attacks against Iraqi civilians.
"The last straw that broke the camel's back was when Dr. Allawi announced that he was working to bring back Baathists from the Izzat al-Douri wing, into the political process," said al-Suhail. "How could I accept such a dangerous thing?"
The announcement by al-Suhail and al-Hasani _ a Sunni Arab and former parliament speaker _ coincided with criticism of Allawi by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who publicly urged him not to meet again with Baathists.
"How could he meet with al-Douri who is still working to bring the Baath back to power in Iraq," al-Maliki, a Shiite, told a news conference. "That party is banned under Iraq's constitution and is accused of terrorism. So, meeting with Baathists could be considered as an act of terrorism by itself."
Five ministers from Allawi's bloc _ which includes Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds _ have been boycotting Cabinet meetings to protest what they say is al-Maliki's failure to introduce political reform.
Allawi himself has been energetically campaigning against al-Maliki, accusing him of adopting sectarian policies and calling for him to step down in a blitz of media interviews.