A political row festered in Iraq on Friday, as a top Sunni leader denied he penned a commentary criticising the Shiite-led government, the latest in a crisis that has stoked sectarian tensions.
Since the departure of US troops less than two weeks ago, Iraq has plummeted into a political standoff, with authorities having charged Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi with running a death squad and premier Nuri al-Maliki calling for his Sunni deputy Saleh al-Mutlak to be sacked.
Mutlak and Hashemi's Sunni-backed Iraqiya party has boycotted parliament and cabinet, and on Wednesday, the New York Times ran a piece by three Iraqiya leaders -- Finance Minister Rafa al-Essawi, parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi -- sharply critical of Maliki's administration.
Nujaifi, however, has since said his name was added to the piece without his knowledge.
"The article published in the New York Times... has been written without the knowledge of speaker Nujaifi," said a statement issued by his office late on Thursday.