Freedom Stumbles

From Holden:

It takes more than a purple finger to create a functioning democracy.

Nearly two months after Iraq’s historic Jan. 30 elections, negotiations to form a new government have stalled over Cabinet posts and how to include the fragile nation’s Sunni minority — dominant under former dictator Saddam Hussein and believed to make up the core of the ongoing insurgency.

The bickering exposed tensions in the newly formed parliament, with [Interim PM/Summary Executioner Ayad] Allawi storming out of the session, followed by interim President Ghazi al-Yawer, a Sunni Arab who turned down the speaker’s job.

“What are we going to tell the citizens who sacrificed their lives and cast ballots on Jan. 30?” [Shiite cleric Hussein] al-Sadr said earlier.

Of course, kicking the press out of your supposedly open, democratic assembly is not good form.

During the session, an assembly member exhorted others to take action, saying a vote must be held as swiftly as possible while the body is in the world’s spotlight.

At that point, the acting speaker kicked reporters out of the session and cut off the video feed from the convention center in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where the assembly is meeting.

A Western diplomat watching the proceeding called the decision to cut the feed “an embarrassment.”