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April 15, 2010
Maliki appears close to forming governing coalition in Iraq
The two main Shia parties in Iraq appear close to an agreement to form a coalition government, according to this Reuters report:
Talks on an alliance between Iraq's two main Shi'ite Muslim blocs to form the next government appear to be nearing a conclusion, with the main sticking point being how to nominate a prime minister, officials said. A hotly contested but inconclusive general election on March 7 brought Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition 89 seats, two behind the cross-sectarian Iraqiya coalition headed by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. The results must still be certified...
Maliki's State of Law alliance has been in merger talks with the other main Shi'ite grouping, the Iran-friendly Iraqi National Alliance (INA), which gained 70 seats. Together, the two could have a working majority in the 325-seat parliament. "I think we are in the final stages of putting together the last touches before announcing this alliance," said Ali al-Adeeb, a close ally of Maliki. "I think within the next few days, we will announce this alliance."
But the party of anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which accounts for about 40 of INA's seats, has made it clear it does not want Maliki reappointed. Maliki sent Iraqi troops backed by U.S. firepower to crush Sadr's paramilitary Mehdi Army in 2008. Sadrist opposition has dimmed Maliki's chances of a second term.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Allawi and his victorious Iraqiya party appear to be on the outs, and is warning of a return to sectarian violence if his secular coalition of Sunnis and Shias is denied sufficient representation in the cabinet.
Maliki is close to forming a government but it appears that in order for that to happen, he will have to step down as prime minister. There is probably a greater chance that he will be forced out, and State of Law will have to name a new leader. That may take some time, which could benefit Allawi although it looks like he just doesn't have the horses to form a government of his own.