Iraq rivals seal power-sharing deal eight months after vote

Iraq`s parties have sealed a power-sharing deal more than eight months after general election.

Baghdad: Iraq`s deeply divided political
factions have sealed a power-sharing deal more than eight
months after an inconclusive general election, paving the way
for MPs to elect a speaker on Thursday.

The deal, clinched late yesterday night after three
days of high-pressure talks between the rival factions, sees
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, set to return for a
second term, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, likely to retain the
presidency and a Sunni Arab MP poised to be elected as speaker
of parliament.

It also establishes a new statutory body to oversee
security as a sop to former prime minister Iyad Allawi, who
had held out for months to take the premiership from Maliki
after his mainly Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc won narrowly
more seats in the March election.

The hard-won agreement now paves the way for an end to
a months-long power vacuum that had witnessed growing violence
in the country.

Allawi`s Iraqiya bloc confirmed it had finally signed
up to the deal.

"I can confirm that there was an accord last night but
I cannot give details," Iraqiya spokesman Intissar Allawi told
a news agency.

The support of the bloc, which won most of its support
among the Sunni Arab minority that dominated Saddam Hussein`s
regime and has been the bedrock of the anti-US insurgency
since the 2003 invasion, was seen as vital to prevent a
resurgence of violence.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said that Iraqiya
had agreed to accept the position of parliament speaker -- not
the the presidency or the premiership they had long sought.

"A power-sharing agreement has been concluded and
parliament will meet at 3:00 pm (1200 GMT) to elect Osama
al-Nujaifi as speaker," Dabbagh said.