Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fomer prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari wins Sadrist 'referendum'

 Former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (picture) has emerged as winner in the 'referendum' that the Sadrist movement has held over the weekend in which its followers (and others) could determine whom they want to become prime minister of the next Iraqi government. Imcumbent prime eminister Nuri al-Maliki finished only in fourth place with 10%, his main rival Iyad Allawi got 9% and ended fifth.

According to the Arabic newpaper Al-Hayat the results were as follows:

 1) Ibrahim al-Jaafari  (leader of a splinter of the Da'awa Party) 24%,
2) Jaafar al Sadr (State of Law) 23%,
3) Qusay al-Suhail (an outsider on the list of the Sadr Movement) 17%,
4) Nuri al-Maliki (State of Law) 10%
5) Iyad al-Allawi (Iraqi National Movement 'Iraqiyya') 9%.

The result of the Sadr Movement's poll got to be known at a time that the main contenders, Allawi of Iraqiyya and Nuri al-Maliki of State of Law both try to rally enough support to get the necessary 163 seats in parliament. Allawi has 91 seats of his own, Al-Maliki 89.  There was some talk of a possible merger of Maliki's State of Law with the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), the main Shi'ite bloc (70 seats) of which the Sadr movemenet emerged as the strongest factor with 39 seats.
At this stage it is unclear what consequences the Sadr 'referendum' will have. At least it does not seem to point in the direction of a merger with State of Law as long as this bloc aims to return Nuri al-Maliki to the position of prime minister. AFP reports that the referendum might merely have been a means of the Sadrists to find a way around a situation in which they would have to give their backing to prime minister Al-Maliki. The Sadrists consider Al-Maliki to be a big enemy, because he was at the forefront of an offensive against the armed wing of the Sadrists in 2008.

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