BAGHDAD: Iraq's prime minister-designate called on the countries numerous Shiite militias and tribes to come under government control and stop acting independently Monday, adding that discussions between political rivals to form a new government were "constructive and positive."
The comments by Haider al-Abadi came at his first press conference since accepting the nomination to be Iraq's next prime minister, underlining how he is attempting to address the worries of the country's Sunnis, who say that Shiite militias are targeting them in religiously-mixed areas.
"We will never allow any armed group to operate outside of the framework of the state," Abadi told reporters at the presidential palace in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. "They all should be within the state framework and under the control of the security forces," said Abadi.
A number of Shiite militias have answered a call by influential Iraq-based Shiite religious authority Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to support the Iraqi military, after large divisions fled from the State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants in the northern cities of Mosul and Tikrit. A number of Sunni tribes also oppose the militant group.
Abadi also expressed optimism that he will meet the September 10 deadline to form a new government.
"Several meetings and dialogues were held with the political blocs to form a unified vision for our governmental program, he said." The negotiations were generally positive and constructive. I hope we will agree to form a unified vision for the governmental program in the next two days."
Also Monday, separate attacks in Baghdad killed at least 20 people and wounded dozens.
The deadliest was carried out by a suicide bomber who blew up an explosives-laden vest among Shiite worshipers who were leaving a mosque after noon prayers in the capital's eastern New Baghdad area, killing at least 15 people and wounding 32 others, a police officer said.
In Baghdad's southern Dora district, a roadside bomb missed a police patrol but hit a civilian car, killing three and wounding 11 others, he added. Two other civilians were killed and 10 wounded in another bomb explosion in an outdoor market in the northern Shaab neighborhood, another police officer said.
Two medical officials confirmed the causality figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
Since early this year, Iraq has been facing a growing Sunni insurgency with ISIS and allied Sunni militants who have taken over areas in the country's west and north. The crisis has worsened since June when the group declared an Islamic state, or caliphate, in territory under its control.