Baghdad: Iraq`s president on Thursday asked
incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to form a new
government, part of a deal to end an eight-month deadlock over
who would lead the country through the next four years,
including the departure of the final American troops.
The long-awaited request from President Jalal Talabani
sets in motion a 30-day timeline to accomplish the daunting
task of finding a team that includes all of Iraq`s rival
"We ask Nouri Kamal al-Maliki to form the new
government that we hope will be a government of national
partnership," said Talabani, in comments aired by Iraqi state
The new government is expected to include all the
major factions, including the Kurds, Shiite political parties
aligned with Iran and a Sunni-backed bloc that believes it
should have been the one leading the next government.
Many of the politicians were in the room with
al-Maliki and Talabani when the announcement was made in a
show of unity that belies the country`s often divisive
Al-Maliki will have to find substantial roles for all
of those factions or risk having them leave his government, a
possibly destabilizing blow for Iraq`s still fragile
The announcement today was largely a formality, coming
after Talabani was elected on Nov 11 and at the time publicly
asked al-Maliki to form the next government. Talabani then had
15 days in which to formally extend the offer, giving
al-Maliki some extra time to work out the details.
The announcement underscores what has been a stunning
comeback for al-Maliki, whose State of Law coalition came in
second in the March 7 election to the Sunni-backed bloc led by
former prime minister Ayad Allawi. But neither bloc gained the
163-seat majority necessary to govern, which translated into
an intensive period of political jockeying.
As the political discussions dragged on, so did
violence, raising concerns that insurgents were trying to
exploit the political vacuum to bring about more sectarian
Allawi and his Iraqiya coalition were never able to
gather enough support from Iraq`s political parties, which are
still defined largely by their sectarian allegiances.
Although Allawi himself is a Shiite, his largely Sunni
coalition was viewed with suspicion by many in Iraq`s
political scene who still harbor deep resentment over the
Sunni-dominant government that ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein
and worry about Sunnis returning to power.