Iraq's prime minister says he will call for early elections that could tighten his grip on power if the nation's bickering political factions fail to break an impasse that has all but paralyzed the government.
Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a statement Wednesday that continued refusals by political opponents to meet him at the negotiating table would leave him little choice but to call for a new vote. He did not mention a date.
The next parliamentary elections are set for 2014. Under Iraq's constitution, a majority of parliament's 325 lawmakers must vote to dissolve the legislature and force new elections.
The threat is al-Maliki's response to months of demands for his resignation by Sunni, Kurdish and some Shiite leaders, who say they have been sidelined from power.