President Jalal Talabani has accused the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance, which holds the majority in parliament, of monopolizing power in the government and refusing to move ahead on a key issue for Kurds, the resettlement of Kurds in the northern city of Kirkuk.
"The time has come for the United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdistan coalition to study Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's stepping aside from his post," said Azad Jundiyani, a spokesman for Talabani. "This is for the benefit of the political process."
Asked if the Kurds would withdraw from the government if the Shiite alliance does not back them in removing al-Jaafari, Jundiyani said, "We will wait and see." Talabani has made indirect threats to withdraw from the coalition if Kurdish demands are not met.
The two blocs have been the bedrock of the temporary government. Its collapse would add a new layer of political instability and underline how struggles for power are undermining efforts to get Iraq's fractious communities to work together in a new political system.
Iraq is holding an Oct. 15 referendum on a new constitution that leaders of Iraq's Sunni Arab minority reject, while it is backed by the Shiites and Kurds.