BAGHDAD - Civil society groups said Friday they are to launch a legal battle for Iraqi MPs left idle since a March 7 election to return the 40 million dollars they have received in salaries and allowances over the past eight months.
"The Iraqi Civil Initiative to Protect the Constitution has decided to appeal to the supreme court for the return of remunerations received by parliament members since the election," a coalition of 12 groups said.
The groups, in a statement, said they would organise a demonstration on Saturday in central Baghdad's Tahrir Square "to protest against the repeated violations of the constitution despite a supreme court decision."
The general election ended in deadlock after none of the main parties won enough of the 325 seats in parliament to form a majority government. Iraq has since been left without a new administration.
Parliament itself has remained in hiatus, except for a 20-minute oath-taking ceremony and another brief meeting at which acting speaker Fuad Massum declared an indefinite "open" session.
On October 24, Iraq's supreme court ordered parliament to resume work, after the same alliance of civil society groups launched a legal case against Massum, accusing him of violating the constitution by leaving the session open.
As a result, MPs are scheduled to convene on Monday to elect a speaker and two deputies, the first step toward forming a government.
But with about 50 MPs on pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites in Mecca, western Saudi Arabia, and other political groups unwilling to attend, it is unlikely to reach a quorum.
The constitution stipulates that a speaker, president and prime minister must be elected in that order.
The Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc of former premier Iyad Allawi narrowly won the election with 91 seats, closely followed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite State of Law Alliance with 89.
Neither has been able to muster a majority, despite back-door negotiations with various Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs which also picked up seats.