Al-Maliki says he’s only PM nominee from party

Iraq`s PM said on Saturday he is the only nominee from his political party to run the nation`s next govt, rejecting suggestions of a consensus candidate.

Updated: May 29, 2010, 19:22 PM IST

Baghdad: Iraq`s Prime Minister said on Saturday
he is the only nominee from his political party to run the
nation`s next government, rejecting suggestions of a consensus
candidate to satisfy those concerned about his leadership.

Nouri al-Maliki`s comments revealed an unwillingness
to budge in negotiations with his Shiite partners over forming
Iraq`s likely next government despite a process that has
dragged on in the nearly three months since the March 7
election left the country without a clear winner.

Other Shiite political groups and religious leaders
whose support al-Maliki is depending on have been lukewarm at
best about him remaining in the job.

Asked by reporters if his State of Law political
coalition would compromise on a candidate to satisfy the
concerns, al-Maliki said there is "only one nominee to be a
Prime Minister".

"No, the State of Law insists on its candidate,"
al-Maliki told reporters in the city of Najaf. It was clear he
was talking about himself.

Al-Maliki`s State of Law coalition came in second in
the election behind a coalition backed by Iraq`s minority
Sunnis. But no single group won an outright majority, making a
coalition government necessary.

The Prime Minister`s party has joined up with the
religious Shiite Iraqi National Alliance in hopes of capturing
enough seats in Parliament to run the next government.

The leader of one of the two main political parties
that make up the alliance, powerful Shiite cleric Ammar
al-Hakim, has said he does not believe al-Maliki has enough
Iraqi or international support to remain Prime Minister.

The other wing of the Iraqi National Alliance, led by
anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, intensely dislikes
al-Maliki because he crushed their Mahdi Army militia in 2008
and jailed thousands of them.

The Sadrists initially rejected al-Maliki as head of a
new government. But politicians involved in negotiations say
Sadrists are now softening in the face of pressure by
neighbouring Shiite power Iran to back al-Maliki.

Al-Maliki, whose political coalition fell two seats
behind his Sunni-backed rival, former Prime Minister Ayad
Allawi, has demanded ballot recounts and other legal
challenges in an attempt to stay in power.