There are intense fears amongst ordinary Iraqis that sectarian tensions in the country will be stoked now that the fugitive vice-president of Iraq has been given the death sentence. The verdict came on the same day that more than 100 people were killed in a series of explosions across the country.
Vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi - the senior-most Sunni political figure in Shiite-ruled Iraq - was found guilty of running death squads during the country's civil war, which erupted after the invasion by coalition forces in 2003. He was sentenced in his absence and has since fled the country.
In one of the latest attacks, police and hospital sources said 12 people were blown up and 35 were injured in the wake of this vehicle, which exploded outside a café in Sadr City in Baghdad.
More violence is expected because of the severity of the wave of attacks across Iraq before Hashemi’s death sentence was even issued: at least 58 people died as another car bomb exploded outside a French consular office in Nassiriya in the south.
Vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi is now in exile in Turkey, claiming the charges against him are politically motivated. He was outspoken in his criticism of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. A warrant was issued for his arrest and him going AWOL has caused a breakdown in the already fragile power-sharing agreement between the Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions. The urgent question for President al-Maliki to answer now, is how to pull the country back from what many people fear is the brink of civil war.
Written and Presented by Marverine Cole