Iraq parliament ‘reaches deal on government’

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Nouri Maliki

The Iraqi parliament is due to meet after a reported breakthrough in negotiations to form a new government.

Negotiations have been in deadlock since elections in March. MPs said a deal was reached to keep Nouri Maliki as prime minister after he gained the support of the Sunni coalition led by former PM Iyad Allawi. The agreement is said to provide checks and balances against the abuse of power by any one group. The US said the reported deal was a “big step forward”. One by one, smaller factions gradually fell into line, with Mr Maliki’s opponents saying that Iran was playing a major persuasive role behind the scenes. But the question remained, how to bring on board the alliance headed by Mr Allawi, which won the bulk of the Sunni vote. Everybody agrees they should be involved because marginalisation of the Sunnis was seen as a major factor driving the insurgency. Now the deal appears to be that while Mr Maliki keeps the job as prime minister, Mr Allawi’s bloc will be given the speakership of parliament, the foreign ministry and the presidency of a new national council for strategic policy – it’s designed in theory at least as a check on the unbridled wielding of power by the prime minister. The presidency of the republic is also expected to be retained by the current incumbent, the Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani. Once parliament convenes, it is expected to begin by electing its own speaker and his deputies. The chamber will then elect the president of the republic who will in turn invite the biggest parliamentary coalition, Mr Maliki’s, to nominate its candidate to try to form a government. He would then have a month to try to put an administration together. The tide turned for Mr Maliki in early October when the militant young Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr announced that the 40 or so seats he controls in the new parliament would back the incumbent for a second term.


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