Iraq rivals `agree to share power` eight months after poll

Iraq`s political rivals reached a breakthrough power-sharing deal in which Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, retains the premiership, a spokesman said today, exactly eight months after inconclusive elections.

Last Updated: Nov 08, 2010, 00:18 AM IST

Baghdad: Iraq`s political rivals reached a
breakthrough power-sharing deal in which Nuri al-Maliki, a
Shiite, retains the premiership, a spokesman said today,
exactly eight months after inconclusive elections.

"An agreement was reached yesterday among the
political parties in which the Prime Minister will stay on,
and the Iraqiya party will choose its candidate for parliament
speaker," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told news agencies.
The agreement was confirmed by former premier Iyad
Allawi`s Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, which won the most seats
in the March 7 legislative election but fell short of a
parliamentary majority.

Dabbagh said "there are still some problems to resolve
but parliament will meet on Thursday to choose a speaker," the
first step to forming a new government.

Maliki and Allawi would both attend a meeting in the
northern city of Arbil on Monday for a formal ceremony to
announce the agreement, the government spokesman said.

Iraqiya MP Jamal al-Butikh said the bloc had agreed on
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 agencies.

Today`s announcement came after Iraqi Kurdistan`s
regional president, Massud Barzani, said he had invited all
political groups to meet tomorrow in the Kurdish capital to
resolve the crisis.

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, except for a
20-minute oath-taking ceremony and another brief meeting at
which acting speaker Fuad Massum declared an indefinite "open"
session.

On October 24, Iraq`s supreme court ordered parliament
to resume work, after an alliance of civil society groups
launched a legal case against Massum, accusing him of
violating the constitution by leaving the session open.

The Constitution stipulates that a Speaker, President
and Prime Minister must be elected in that order.

The Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc narrowly won the
election with 91 seats, closely followed by Maliki`s State of
Law Alliance with 89.

Neither had been able to muster the 163-seat majority
required in the Parliament, despite intense back-door
negotiations with various Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs
which also picked up seats.

-PTI