Breakthrough for new Iraq government? Allawi meets Maliki, Sadr
A flurry of meetings could signal the formation of a new Iraq government by next week's deadline. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's main challenger met with him tonight, after meeting kingmaker Muqtada al-Sadr yesterday.
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“Muqtada [al-Sadr] is clear that we do not endorse Mr. Maliki to head the government a second time,” says Bahaa al-Araji, a prominent Sadrist politician and reelected MP who chaired the last parliament’s legal committee.Skip to next paragraph
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This spring, the Sadrists held a nonbinding referendum on who should lead Iraq; Maliki came in fourth.
New deadline: Next Wednesday
In Damascus, both sides agreed the government should be formed by next Wednesday – a deadline set by parliament that has already been extended beyond legal limits.
And if not Maliki as premier?
“I believe it will be a person who everybody can agree upon – what we call a consensus choice, just like Mr. Maliki was. And we are optimistic,” says Mr. Araji.
But completing that simple formula has been far beyond the reach of Iraqi politicians since the March 7 vote. Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc won 91 seats, narrowly defeating Maliki’s coalition, which took 89 seats.
But neither grouping has yet been able to muster the 163 necessary to form a government, and even fought semantic battles over the language of the constitution about who should be first to do so.
Allawi's Iraqiya frustrated with delay
“If there had been real commitment to the constitution and real belief in the peaceful transfer of authority – there would have been no issue to start with,” says Maysoon al-Damlouji, spokeswoman for Iraqiya. “As winners of the election, we should have been given our chance to form the government – and had we failed, they would have had their chance.”
“Instead, they chose to circumvent the results and the political process, first by demanding a manual recount, undermining the very credibility of the election – and when that didn’t work, by misinterpreting the words of the constitution,” says Ms. Damlouji.
Speaking on the US satellite channel Hurra Iraq, Jabir al-Jabir, a member of Iraqiya, said: “Iraqiya won the elections and is entitled to form the government, and I doubt Iraqiya would accept less than that. We have a duty towards the citizens who voted for us.”
The result, despite the new surge of high-level political meetings, could be more deadlock in Iraq.
“You’ve got drift,” says Dodge, who also teaches at Queen Mary, University of London. “The ministers are not behaving like caretakers. They’re still running the ministries and doing what they want without any constraint.”
--- With reporting by Sahar Issa.
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