July 7, 2007 / 2:24 PM / 12 years ago

Iraqi lawmaker quits energy panel over oil law

BAGHDAD, July 7 (Reuters) - A member of Iraq’s parliamentary energy committee quit on Saturday in protest over a draft oil law, which Washington hopes will help ease violence between Iraq’s warring Shi’ite and Sunni Arabs.

Usama al-Nujeyfi told a small news conference that the proposal would cede too much control to global companies and "ruin the country’s future". He vowed to work to defeat the draft in parliament.

"I announce my resignation and distance myself from delivering this draft before this parliament and I will carry out my obligation to repeal it inside parliament with all fellow nationalists," al-Nujeyfi said.

The draft was passed by the cabinet of Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Tuesday and must be debated and agreed by parliament before it can become law.

Washington sees it as a key benchmark of progress in reconciliation and hopes the law will help to stem sectarian violence between minority Sunnis and majority Shi’ites.

Iraq has the world’s third largest oil reserves, but most of it lies in the Kurdish north and the Shi’ite south. Sunnis, who live mainly in the middle of the country around Baghdad, fear they will miss out on any windfalls.

But al-Nujeyfi, a Sunni member of the Iraq National List, headed by secular politician and former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, said the proposal would cede too much to foreign firms eager to rebuild Iraq’s oil industry.

"I call on my lawmaker brothers and sisters to confront this law which will ruin the country’s future and will be in the interest of large global companies at the expense of Iraqis," he said.

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