Friday, November 5, 2010

Maliki may form government next week Thursday


BAGHDAD: Iraq’s parliament will meet on Monday to elect a speaker, the chamber said yesterday, a move that could break an eight-month political deadlock and lead to Nouri Al Maliki’s reappointment as prime minister.

Iraq has been without a new government since an inconclusive March election. The Sunni-backed cross sectarian Iraqiya bloc won the most seats, but Maliki’s faction has since combined with other Shia groups and reached deals with minority Kurds, and that may keep him in power.

In a sign that some in Iraqiya no longer believe it can form a government, one of its lawmakers said a group of up to 30 of its parliamentarians intended to back a government led by Maliki.

“We are with whoever wins 50 percent plus one and he is the only one who has, so he has the right (to form a government),” said the lawmaker, Ahmed Al Ureibi, who belongs to a mainly Sunni group of Iraqiya politicians from around the country.

Another member of that group said a final decision would likely be made on Sunday.

The country’s highest court last month ordered lawmakers to get to work and resume sessions, putting pressure on Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions to accelerate efforts to reach an agreement on a governing coalition.

Tensions have grown during the political deadlock, and Arab countries and US officials fear Sunni anger could boost a weakened but stubborn Al Qaeda-led insurgency if Iraqiya does not play a major role in government.

Although violence has subsided since the height of sectarian warfare in 2006-07, Iraq remains torn along ethno-sectarian lines as US forces prepare to withdraw next year.

Iraq’s parliament has sat only once - in June for 71 minutes - since the March election.

Jalal Al Din Al Sagheer, a senior member of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, which is the one Shia political group still resisting Maliki’s nomination, said it seemed likely Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd would stay in his position.

But he said he was not confident that any of the other positions would be resolved.

“We need more than a miracle to say that by next Monday a real solution will be achieved. Anyway, I am not optimistic,” he said.

Ureibi said the three top jobs - the speaker’s post, the presidency and the prime ministership - would all be decided in Monday’s parliamentary session.