Iraq heads towards new Shiite-led government

Iraq inched towards a new govt after its two biggest Shiite Muslim alliances struck a deal to end months of post-election haggling that had paralysed politics and alarmed US.

Last Updated: May 05, 2010, 18:53 PM IST

Baghdad: Iraq inched towards a new government
on Wednesday after its two biggest Shiite Muslim alliances struck a
deal to end months of post-election haggling that had
paralysed politics and alarmed Washington.

The agreement is likely to allow the country`s Shiite
religious parties to cling to power and see off the challenge
from a secular alliance which won the most seats in the March
7 parliamentary election, due to strong Sunni backing,
but failed to secure a majority.

There was no immediate announcement on the coalition`s
preferred candidate for Prime Minister but incumbent Premier
Nuri al-Maliki appeared likely to be the main casualty of the
deal announced late yesterday.

It is widely believed the price of the agreement between
Maliki`s State of Law bloc and the Iraqi National Alliance
(INA) was a commitment that he would not continue in his post.

There was no immediate reaction from the United States,
which in the past week urged Baghdad`s politicians to set
aside their differences and form a coalition that allows them
to get back to the business of running the country.

American combat troops are due to pull out of Iraq by
September, ahead of a complete military withdrawal at the end
of 2011, and the seating of a new government in Baghdad is key
to Washington`s exit strategy.

PTI