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Middle east

Rivals agree on power sharing deal with Maliki at head

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-07

Eight months after an inconclusive election and subsequent political deadlock, Iraq’s leading political parties have reached a breakthrough agreement, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki remaining in the top spot.

 

AFP - Iraq's political rivals reached a breakthrough power-sharing deal in which Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, retains the premiership, a spokesman said on Sunday, exactly eight months after inconclusive elections.
  
"An agreement was reached yesterday among the political parties in which Jalal Talabani will continue as head of state, Nuri al-Maliki will stay on as prime minister and Iraqiya will choose its candidate for parliament speaker," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told AFP.
  
He said the deal was between the National Alliance, which represents the main Shiite parties, and the Kurdish coalition, while Iraqiya's support hinged on its agreement over the posts of speaker and president.
  
"Iraqiya has not agreed for the moment over which side will have the parliament speaker's position and which side will have the presidency," Dabbagh added.
  
Former premier Iyad Allawi's Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, which won the most seats in the March 7 election but fell short of a parliamentary majority, confirmed the deal and said discussions were continuing over those key posts.
  
"There is a draft agreement with the Iraqiya party, but there are still some problems to resolve," Dabbagh said, adding that parliament would meet on Thursday to choose a speaker, the first step towards forming a new government.
  
The spokesman added that both Maliki and Allawi would on Monday attend a ceremony in Arbil, capital of the autonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan, to announce the agreement formally.
  
Dabbagh said the meeting would convene at 11:00 am (0800 GMT).
  
Iraqiya MP Jamal al-Butikh said earlier his bloc had agreed to the power-sharing deal after it was assured that "no political decision would be made without its agreement."
  
"Iraqiya will go to Arbil under Allawi's leadership and because the party has been given reassurance in real power-sharing," he told AFP.
  
Butikh said it was unclear if the bloc would be offered the speaker's position or the presidency, although some Iraqiya members declared a preference for the latter now held by Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
  
Iraqiya MP Alia Nusayef said Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite leader who has 40 seats in parliament, had also been invited to the Arbil meeting "because he brings equilibrium."
  
Sadr had first held discussions with Allawi, but then went into a Shiite alliance with Maliki.
  
Sunday's announcement came after Iraqi Kurdistan's regional president, Massud Barzani, said he had invited all political groups to meet on Monday in the Kurdish capital to resolve the crisis.
  
Earlier on Sunday in Arbil, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called for a meeting of Iraqi parties on forming a government.
  
"I'm in Arbil to discuss and possibly give advice to Baghdad and Arbil on the issue of forming a government, which we hope will happen soon," he said.
  
Iraq's second general election since the 2003 US-led invasion ended in deadlock after none of the main parties won enough of the 325 seats in parliament to form a majority government.
  
Parliament has since remained in hiatus, but on October 24 the supreme court ordered MPs to resume work and choose a new speaker.
  
The constitution stipulates that a speaker, president and prime minister must be elected in that order.
  
The Iraqiya bloc narrowly won the election with 91 seats, closely followed by Maliki's State of Law Alliance with 89.
  
Neither was able to muster the 163-seat parliamentary majority required, despite intense back-door negotiations with various Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs which also won seats.
  
Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party and Talabani's PUK, which together won 43 seats, had entered into an alliance with Goran and two Kurdish Islamic parties that won six places.
  
Their bloc gave the alliance the muscle to decide who would form the next government, but Goran's exit has since weakened their position.
  
Goran, with eight seats, pulled out of the alliance last month after its proposed reforms for greater democracy in the autonomous Kurdistan region were ignored.
  
After allying with other Shiite groups Maliki still needed around 20 more seats to form a majority. The agreement with the Kurdish coalition grants him more than twice that number.

 

Date created : 2010-11-07

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