The Baghdad parliament has delayed voting on a bill to grant emergency powers to the prime minister to prevent the country's north from slipping out of government control. Only 128 MPs voted for Nouri Maliki's request to grant special powers to reclaim Kirkuk from Kurdish forces.
The area was captured by Kurds after the cities of Mosul and Tikrit fell to Sunni Islamist insurgents. Kurdish fighters are for years involved in a dispute with Baghdad attempting to confiscate control. The prime minister has sought special powers to impose curfews, restrict media and public protests.
The severe lack of unity in Iraqi politics has prevented the parliament from taking any practical steps to tide over the crisis. The state has to battle insurgency from nearly 5,000 fighters who are associated with al-Qaeda in Iraq. The terror organization has cashed in on the political divisions between the government and the minority Sunni Arab community.