A key Iraqi party with eight elected MPs said Saturday it has withdrawn from a Kurdish bloc, weakening an alliance whose support will decide who becomes the next prime minister.
"From now on we will act independently in the Iraqi parliament, where we will continue to defend the rights and demands of the Kurdish people according to the constitution," Latif Kader, an official from the Goran Party, told AFP.
Iraq has been without a government since March 7 polls in which the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc of ex-premier Iyad Allawi won 91 seats, followed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite State of Law Alliance with 89.
Despite intense back-door negotiations, neither has been able to muster the 163 seats required for a majority in the 325-member parliament.
Massud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which together won 43 seats, had entered into an alliance with Goran and two Kurdish Islamic parties that won six places.
The 57-seat bloc gave the alliance the muscle to decide who would form the next government, but Goran's exit has weakened their position.
The MPs pulled out of the alliance after their proposed reforms for greater democracy in the autonomous Kurdistan region were ignored, Goran said in a statement on Friday.
"Not only did the authorities do nothing in this direction, they decided to take measures to increase their power," the statement said. "Therefore we were obliged to announce our withdrawal."
Goran, whose name which means "Change" in Kurdish, received nearly a quarter of the votes in the July 2009 elections for the Kurdish parliament, running on a campaign to uproot rampant corruption.