Iraq's PM asked to form next government
Iraq's president today asked incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to form a new government, part of a deal to end an eight-month deadlock over who would lead the country through the next four years, including the departure of the final American troops.world Updated: Nov 27, 2010 12:50 IST
Iraq's president today asked incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to form a new government, part of a deal to end an eight-month deadlock over who would lead the country through the next four years, including the departure of the final American troops.
The long-awaited request from President Jalal Talabani sets in motion a 30-day timeline to accomplish the daunting task of finding a team that includes all of Iraq's rival factions. "We ask Nouri Kamal al-Maliki to form the new government that we hope will be a government of national partnership," said Talabani, in comments aired by Iraqi state TV.
The new government is expected to include all the major factions, including the Kurds, Shiite political parties aligned with Iran and a Sunni-backed bloc that believes it should have been the one leading the next government. Many of the politicians were in the room with al-Maliki and Talabani when the announcement was made in a show of unity that belies the country's often divisive politics.
Al-Maliki will have to find substantial roles for all of those factions or risk having them leave his government, a possibly destabilizing blow for Iraq's still fragile democracy. The announcement today was largely a formality, coming after Talabani was elected on Nov 11 and at the time publicly asked al-Maliki to form the next government. Talabani then had 15 days in which to formally extend the offer, giving al-Maliki some extra time to work out the details.
The announcement underscores what has been a stunning comeback for al-Maliki, whose State of Law coalition came in second in the March 7 election to the Sunni-backed bloc led by former prime minister Ayad Allawi. But neither bloc gained the 163-seat majority necessary to govern, which translated into an intensive period of political jockeying. As the political discussions dragged on, so did violence, raising concerns that insurgents were trying to exploit the political vacuum to bring about more sectarian violence.
Allawi and his Iraqiya coalition were never able to gather enough support from Iraq's political parties, which are still defined largely by their sectarian allegiances. Although Allawi himself is a Shiite, his largely Sunni coalition was viewed with suspicion by many in Iraq's political scene who still harbor deep resentment over the Sunni-dominant government that ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein and worry about Sunnis returning to power.