Iraq PM wins support for new govt
Baghdad, November 11, 2010
Iraqi politicians appeared to have broken an eight-month political impasse on Wednesday when the Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance agreed to take part in a new government headed by incumbent Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.
Maliki inched closer to a final deal to secure a second term on a day when bomb and mortar attacks targeting Christians across the Iraqi capital killed at least three people and wounded dozens of others.
After a meeting of Iraqi political leaders, a senior lawmaker from the cross-sectarian Iraqiya coalition headed by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told Reuters the bloc would join a Maliki government.
The decision offered hope the next government would include enough Sunni representation to ease the chances of a return to the sectarian violence that killed tens of thousands of people after the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.
The Obama administration called the development 'a big step forward for Iraq. 'All along we've said the best result would be a government that reflects the results of the elections, includes all the major blocs representing Iraq's ethnic and sectarian groups, and that does not exclude or marginalize anyone. That's exactly what Iraqis seem to have agreed to,' Antony Blinken, national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, said in a statement.
'Just as important, Iraq's leaders negotiated and apparently agreed to a major redistribution of powers that creates real checks and balances against the abuse of power by any one group,' the US statement said.
Under the expected deal, Maliki would remain prime minister and Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, would retain the presidency.
Iraqiya would take the speaker's post, the Foreign Ministry and a role with possibly expanded authority over defense issues, the economy and foreign affairs.
Iraqiya will meet on Thursday to sort out lingering disagreements and choose a nominee from the party for speaker of parliament, said the lawmaker, who asked not to be named.
Parliament was scheduled to meet on Thursday for just the second time since an inconclusive election in March. Iraq has been without a new government since the vote, which gave Iraqiya two more seats than Maliki's bloc. Neither had enough for a majority in parliament, leaving the factions to negotiate a government.
Iraqiya joins a Kurdish alliance in supporting Maliki following months of contentious negotiations that raised tensions in Iraq as the army and police try to cement security gains against a stubborn insurgency. - Reuters