Iraq's parliamentary factions were scheduled yesterday to discuss a four-point plan put forward by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to end a rash of sectarian violence engulfing his country.
The plan envisions creating new security commissions comprised of representatives of different political, religious and civil society groups, a parliamentary source said on Monday.
It also entails monitoring the situation on the ground across the country, said Jalaledin al-Sagir, a senior Shiite member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq Party.
The new plan aimed at "putting a stop to the flow of Iraqi blood" would form a part of the national reconciliation plan announced by Maliki in June, which was also aimed at quelling insurgent attacks and mounting sectarian violence.
Finally, concrete measures were envisaged to put an effective end to the violence.
"The situation of the militias and armed groups" would be examined yesterday, Sagir said.
These armed groups, Shiite or Sunni, have increasingly been carrying out acts of violence against the other community.
In a joint statement, US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq General George Casey said they "congratulate Prime Minister Maliki and other Iraqi leaders for this important initiative, and assure them of US support."
The statement said the plan "aimed at uniting Shiite and Sunni parties to reduce and ultimately stop sectarian violence," was "the result of two days of frank and intense discussions and negotiation.
"This is a significant step in the right direction and shows that the Iraqi leaders want their country to succeed and are responding to the wishes of their people for security," the statement said. "Now begins the hard work of implementing the plan."
The head of the Sunni parliamentary bloc, Adnan al-Dulaimi, told reporters in a press conference on Monday that the latest plan "would be able to put an end to violence and bring stability to Iraq."
"If everyone is honest and keeps to their commitments, it will be positive for the Iraqi people and put an end to the sectarianism. If not, it will be the end of Iraq," Dulaimi said.
The proliferation of militias, moving around armed and in uniforms and vehicles identical to those of the security forces, is one of the most delicate points for the government.
Violence between the two communities has escalated since the destruction earlier in the year of a mausoleum sacred to Shiites just north of Baghdad.
The Iraqi government renewed its emergency powers on Monday amid mass kidnappings, dozens of corpses on the streets and the assassination of a high ranking officer in the intelligence service.
The capital's dire security situation was further highlighted by a mass kidnapping carried out by gunmen dressed in military-style fatigues.
Of the two dozen people snatched in Sunday's mass kidnapping, 10 of them turned up dead in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Abu Chir, part of the 50 corpses found by police.